Saturday, 17 January 2015

Politics: Council tax frozen for another year

Council tax is set to be frozen for another year as Calderdale Council’s Cabinet puts forward its budget proposals for 2015/16 to 2017/18.

The draft proposals, revealed by Cabinet this week, outline the council’s financial priorities for the next three years.

Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf), leader of Calderdale Council, said: “The main positive is that in these difficult financial times, there’s another zero increase in council tax.

“The only time we’ve seen an increase in council tax since 2010 is the year Labour were in charge and there were no elections,” he said.

The budget includes an extra £200,000 for the Economic Investment Fund which the Cabinet believes will help reduce unemployment levels.

Coun Tim Swift, leader of the Labour group, described the budget proposals as “vaccuous” and said he is working with members of his party to put together alternative budget proposals.

Coun Swift (Lab, Town) said: “They’ve put off all the difficult decisions until after the election - it lacks any direction or ambition for Calderdale.”

Coun Janet Battye, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said she was pleased there will be a full consultation on the budget proposals.

Coun Battye (Lib Dem, Calder) said: “When we last did a consultation in 2010, we got a lot of really useful information from people.

“It gave us some guiding priciples that we’ve been practicing for the past five years.

“So to go back out there five years later and consult on this is really good stuff,” she said.

“If we can get cross-party agreement when this comes to budget council next month, we’ll be all the stronger for it.”

Coun Baines dismissed Coun Swift’s criticism, he said: “We believe it’s important that we do consult, and we will be doing that after the election.

“I find it ironic that Labour were jumping up and down before Christmas about running a full consultation on the budget.

“Anything Labour say I tend to take with a pinch of salt.”
Deputy council leader Scott Benton (Con, Brighouse) said: “The critical point here is that we can’t forget the reason why local government is in this position and why we have to find savings of £9.4 million.”

The proposals will be put forward for a full consultation - the first since 2010 - and will be considered by full council on February 23.

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