Brighton and Hove Greens attack rivals' plans to push through council tax freeze

Posted On 23 Feb 2012 at 2:32 pm

Brighton and Hove Green councillors have criticised their Conservative and Labour rivals over proposed changes to the council’s budget.

The Greens said that the amendments exposed a “buy now pay later” mentality.

The budget is due to be discussed at a meeting this afternoon when councillors will vote on whether to freeze council tax or put it up by 3.5 per cent.

The Conservatives and Labour want to take a one-off government grant of £3 million to fund a council tax freeze.

The ruling Greens said that the one-off nature of the grant would mean deeper cuts next year and the risk of having to put up council tax even more.

Both opposition parties have proposed bringing forward council spending cuts from 2013-14 and making those cuts in the coming financial year to balance the books.

This would be necessary because the government’s £3 million grant is equivalent to a rise of 2.5 per cent in council tax rather than the 3.5 per cent proposed by the Greens.

The Greens said that extra cuts would have to be made in 2013-14 as a result.

They summarised their opponents proposals as

  • Less money for street closures for community events, threatening events big and small, from street parties for the Queen’s diamond jubilee or the Olympics to the Kemp Town Carnival and White Night
  • Sacking staff from the sustainability team, jeopardising money-saving work on energy, water and heating bills within and outside the council and threatening crucial water-saving work during an unprecedented winter drought
  • Raiding a reserve fund created to help people cope with government cuts to council tax benefits, worsening the lives of people who lose their benefits under new government rules
  • Cutting funding earmarked for bringing empty homes back into use
  • Delaying plans to vacate and close underused council buildings which involve spending now to save later

Council leader Bill Randall said: “After all the claims about not working together, it’s now obvious that the Tories and Labour have collaborated on near-identical plans to impose a new round of spending cuts on the city for years to come, just to see through their aim of freezing council tax for one year.

“They’re scrabbling together short-sighted cuts now and pushing even greater cuts back a year to pay for Pickles’ freeze.

“It’s financially reckless, and disappointing to see, especially from the Labour Party. “The new Tory-Labour £3.6 million black hole seriously threatens the frontline services we’ve managed to protect this year.”

The meeting starts at 4.30pm today (Thursday 23 February) at Brighton Town Hall and will be webcast live on the Brighton and Hove City Council website.

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