Local politics, Politics

Babergh’s budget – why I voted against

Yesterday I voted against Babergh’s budget. The budget was asking us to freeze council tax, increase council tenant’s rents by 2.7% and use £1.8 million of New Homes Bonus to support the budget.
I explained that I was voting against because I did not agree with freezing the council tax. I believe we are sending the wrong message to our residents by saying we are having a council tax freeze just before the elections. We are colluding with the Government in pretending that council funding can go on being cut without affecting services.
A rise of 2% in the council tax would have put an average £2 extra on the average household council tax bill and would have sent the message that we need to raise revenues to keep council services going.
Instead we are now becoming dependent for running our services on “New Homes Bonus” which is simply a government bribe to build new houses.
Three other councillors voted against, a Labour one because he was opposed to the rise in council house rents and a LibDem (Michael Bamford) because he said he agreed with me. He called it “hypocritical” to freeze council tax at a time when a budget gap was looming.
On the council rent increase, I accepted the argument that council tenant representatives on the housing board had themselves accepted the need for a rent increase, if we are to pile up enough money in the kitty to build new council houses, something that is desperately needed.

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