The Leader of the Conservatives on Brighton & Hove City Council, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has unveiled his Group’s plans for a council tax freeze ahead of the Council’s Budget setting meeting on 27th February.
The proposals for a freeze take advantage of the Ł1.2 million of recurrent annual funding from the Conservative-led Government’s council tax freeze grant scheme. Just as they did last year, the Green and Labour Groups are proposing to turn down this money and instead put forward above-inflation increases in council tax for hard-working residents.
Other proposals being put forward by the Conservatives, all to take effect from April 1st, include:
- A Ł25,000 grant for the Pride Festival to ensure the Community Parade can go ahead.
- Reversing the Ł165,000 cut to the grants programme for Community and Voluntary groups.
- Reversing the Ł84,000 cut to the short break respite care budget for disabled children.
- Helping traders and small businesses in the city by reducing the cost of their parking permits.
- Restoring Ł20,000 to the Brighton & Hove School Music & Arts Service budget.
- Transitional funding to help Able & Willing – the Council supported business for people with learning disabilities – to develop a more viable business model.
The proposals will form amendments to the main Budget and, if agreed, will be funded from a number of sources including: back office savings in areas such as Human Resources, Communications and Scrutiny; reducing the number of Trade Union officials who are funded by the council taxpayer; adopting a tough but fair approach to income collection across the Council; reversing the proposed increase in the Travellers’ Budget; carrying out a proper tendering exercise on the Council’s in-house Youth Service to enable the not-for profit voluntary organisations to take over the running of the service.
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, said: “I am delighted to be able to present our proposals for a council tax freeze. I firmly believe that this is what the vast majority of the city’s residents want and they simply won’t understand why the other two parties continue to spurn the Government’s generous funding. It is not too late for the Labour Group, in particular, to change their minds and support our freeze proposal. After all, their plans for a 2% increase would break their pledge to keep any increase below inflation and would only generate an additional Ł800,000 funding, out of a Ł750 million Budget.”
Conservative Group Finance Spokesperson, Cllr. Ann Norman, added: “Clearly, had we been in Administration we wouldn’t have started from this position and we believe that a thorough market testing exercise of all the Council’s services is needed. After all, the Council’s independent auditors continue to say that our services are more expensive than other similar councils. However, I’m pleased that we have managed to find enough money to offer residents a council tax freeze, help businesses through reduced parking permit costs, support community and voluntary sector groups and protecting funding for short breaks and outreach services for disabled children. I urge the other two Groups to support our sensible, fully-costed proposals.”