The District Council budget was passed tonight – with an increase in council tax of just under 5 per cent.
It’s no surprise that the increase is just under 5 per cent – in fact it was practically certain, the Conservative administration had no choice.
If they increase it by more than 5 per cent, the government will probably stop the council by “capping it”. We remember how much Labour councils used to complain when the Conservative Government did it – but this Labour Government is just as dictatorial.
If they increase it by less than this, the council loses out in the long run – because each year the government lets councils increase council tax by about 5 per cent of what they spent in the previous year. If you are a prudent council and think you can stave off that 5 per cent increase for a year the government will let you do it. But they won’t let you catch up the following year by having a 10 per cent increase – you are stuck with lower spending for ever (unless the government changes the rules) and in the long term could run into big financial problems – which seems to be the story in Southend.
We in the Liberal Democrat group thought about proposing a zero increase in the council tax this year but the officers warned us in advance that it would be “stupid” so we gave up the idea…
One thing we wanted to see was extra action in clearing grafitti and so Chris proposed that an extra ?7500 was spent on this. It means two clear up days every month now instead of one., which is worthwhile. The Conservatives accepted this idea and in fact Terry Cutmore the Tory leader seconded this.