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Conservatives question need for council tax rise

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Conservatives have strongly criticised the Green and Labour Groups for voting through a 2% council tax rise for this year after new figures reveal that the Council underspent on its budget by 4.6 million in the last financial year.

The figures are contained in a report going to tomorrows Policy & Resources Committee. Back in February, the Conservatives proposed a council tax freeze but were outvoted by a Green/Labour alliance that instead inflicted a 2% increase on residents, which also meant turning down 1.2 million in Government council tax freeze grant.

A 2% increase in council tax raises just 2 million for the Council meaning that, contrary to alarmist claims by the Greens and Labour, a council tax freeze would have been easily affordable with this 4.6 million underspend.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, said: These figures demonstrate once and for all that the council tax rise inflicted upon residents this year was completely unnecessary. Even back in February it was clear that there was going to be a big underspend on the budget so there is simply no excuse for asking residents to fork out more of their hard-earned money. And of course, we shouldnt forget that the Greens and Labour also turned down 1.2 million which was made available by the Government, had they chosen to go for a freeze. Im afraid that this all amounts to the citys two left wing parties playing fast and loose with taxpayers money.

Group Finance Spokesperson, Cllr. Ann Norman, added: It is clearly better for the Council to be underspending rather than overspending but this is the second year in a row now that the budget has been so far out almost 2% of net expenditure. In my view it would be much better for them to balance the books by asking residents for less council tax in the first place. When many of them havent had their rubbish or recycling collected for 5 weeks, residents will quite rightly be wondering what on earth this extra council tax is being spent on.