The following was published in today’s Argus newspaper:
It is quite clear to me when I’m out and about in the city talking to residents, that there is absolutely no appetite for a council tax rise of any kind – let alone one more than double the rate of inflation.
After mortgage or rent payments, council tax is the biggest monthly bill that most people have and, as councillors, I believe that we have a duty to keep it as low as possible.
Council tax levels nationally and in Brighton & Hove more than doubled under the previous Labour Government and the Labour Administration that ran the Council for much of that time regularly imposed double-digit increases. The current Conservative-led Government has recognised just how damaging this has been to hard-pressed residents and has offered councils extra money to enable them to freeze council tax for each of the last 4 years – totalling well over Ł10 million here in Brighton & Hove. It is simply perverse of the Green Administration, backed last year by the Labour Group, to continue turning it down.
This referendum has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘protecting services for the vulnerable’ as Cllr. Kitcat claims. Rather, it is a desperate last minute bid by him to appease members of the Green Group who would have voted against their original Budget proposals.
There is still plenty of scope to make the required savings and maintain, or even improve, services without going cap in hand to the council taxpayer. The Council’s independent auditors continue to say that our services are expensive compared to other similar councils.
So, I urge the Labour Group to support us in delivering what would be a very welcome council tax freeze for residents. Ed Miliband likes to talk up the so-called ‘cost of living crisis’ – so, it would be hypocritical in the extreme for them to spurn this golden opportunity to actually do something about it.