Conservative councillors at Wokingham Borough have voted through a 1.9% council tax increase, refusing to support a Lib Dem proposal for a freeze in council tax.
The Conservatives rejected the government’s council tax freeze grant and brought in an increase just below the 2% level at which they would have had to allow residents a vote in a referendum.
Deputy group leader Cllr Lindsay Ferris (Twyford ward) said “We are obviously not all in this together. The Conservatives have increased the council tax by 1.9% despite our residents being hard pressed. They also did this last year. The Leader of the Council has delivered a budget that even Ed Balls would have been proud of – it is:
- high risk,
- high cost,
- has a high level of borrowing
- and is highly unpopular.”
Cllr Tom McCann (Loddon ward) added that the Conservatives’ budget plans were predictable and lacking in ambition. He said “a 0% rise in the council tax would have meant a saving of £23.71 this year to a Band D council tax payer. This could have been achieved, and the Council could still have delivered quality services spread equally around the borough.”
Lib Dem councillors last night proposed a cut to the £60 charge for the green-waste scheme. The Lib Dems suggested an immediate reduction to £45, which the Conservatives refused.
Cllr Lindsay Ferris (Twyford ward) said “we are disappointed that Wokingham Borough Council appear to have been overcharging residents for the green waste service. The Council is forecast to make a profit of up to £20 per customer a year from this service from these residents. I think it is appalling that the Council are overcharging, some would say fleecing our residents. Green waste was part of the overall waste collection service until 2012 when it became an additional charge on top of the council tax.
We propose that the current annual charge of £60 be reduced to £45. This figure still provides Wokingham Borough Council with a modest return, and is much fairer on the users. We also believe that a lower charge would result in a greater take up, so that within three years the council could be achieving greater revenue for this service than currently forecast.”
When the Waste Contract comes up for renewal, the Lib Dem Group will be pushing for a single affordable one-off charge to cover this service, rather than an annual charge.
Cllr Prue Bray. leader of the Lib Dem councillors in Wokingham, said:
“Wokingham’s Liberal Democrats do not support the Conservatives budget plans. Yet again they have failed to listen and respond to what local residents want. We are very disappointed that the Conservatives have not taken this opportunity to adjust their capital plan for the Wokingham Town Centre Regeneration Project.
“The Conservatives’ controversial plans for the £95Million project have risks and financial implications for residents across the borough, and we will be covering this and other issues at the Budget Council Meeting on Thursday.”