Concern has been raised that the Basildon Conservatives are about to break a key election promise and raise Council Tax for the next 10 years. A report presented to the councils Corporate Resources committee which set out the financial forecast and the budget setting process outlined an assumption that Council Tax will increase by 2.99% for 2019/20 and 1.99% per annum thereafter. Introducing the agenda item, the Chair, Cllr Stuart Sullivan said of the assumptions “I consider these assumptions to be prudent.” This is despite the Conservatives making claims in their recent literature during the May Borough Council Elections that they would not have raised council tax and will keep tax low.
Says Labours Deputy Leader in Basildon and Spokesperson for Corporate Resources, Cllr David Burton-Sampson “I challenged the conservatives at this meeting on their plans for council tax and why they are already appearing to be back tracking on one of their key election promises. The response we received was far from convincing that Council Tax was going to stay low. The chair himself called the assumptions in the report prudent which implies that is how it is going to be under the Basildon Conservatives.”
David adds “We had no choice but to raise Council Tax this year due to the deep and record cuts that the Conservative Government in Westminster are imposing on our council. It certainly was not something we wanted to do. However, we were never disingenuous in misleading the public into thinking it is something we would not do as seems to be the case with the Basildon Conservatives.”
During the meeting Labour Councillors highlighted the recent spending spree that Conservative Councillors have undertaken by increasing the number of committees at the council to give as many of their councillors as possible a rise in Special Responsibility Allowances, a scheme which is currently costing the council an additional £100,000 plus per year. Labour have consistently campaigned to see allowances brought back in line with the original budget they set last year. A report has now been submitted to full council later this month which starts to address those concerns.
Says David “We want every penny spent in this borough to be on projects and services that benefit our residents. But to date all we have seen from this new administration in the last 10 weeks is spending more money on themselves whilst threatening to raise our council tax. All in all, a very poor show for our residents.”