The 5.94% increase was pushed through at last night’s council budget meeting at the Town Hall by Labour Party Councillors, despite fierce opposition from your local Conservative Councillors.
The plans mean that a Band C property would see an increase of nearly £100 a year on Council Tax Bills.
The Cabinet Member for Finance announced that the Council could not manage its budget and was heading for a £1.8 Million overspend for this financial year, eating into the Council’s emergency reserves.
In opposing the proposed Council Tax rise, the Leader of Bury’s Conservative Councillors, Cllr James Daly, said that the Labour Party’s budget lacked vision and aspiration.
He said: “There’s so much that can be done by a Council to influence the lives of people in this borough with imaginative thinking to increase revenue generation to raise funds for public services.”
He accused Labour of ‘abdicating responsibility’ and ‘managing the Council’s decline’.
He added “Bury Labour’s inability to balance a budget and manage the Council adequately means that front line serves are being cut due to their failures … the limit of their ambition is to manage decline, whereas ours is to transform service delivery, invest millions in front line services and improve the life chances of our residents.”
Alternative proposals put forward by the Conservative Councillors were cynically voted down by Labour. These included:
- A Freeze on the basic rate of Council Tax;
- Inject £8.8 Million into Bury and Ramsbottom’s roads over the next 4 years;
- Invest £4 Million into the borough’s leisure facilities, including state of the art upgrades for Ramsbottom Pool and Leisure Centre and extra funds for Ramsbottom Library and Ramsbottom Civic Hall;
- Facilitate the building off 1,000 new homes on brownfield sites owned by the Council over the next 2 to 3 years;
- Reverse the increase in the Chief Executive’s Salary (£175,000) voted through by Labour and cap it at £130,000;
- Cap other senior officer pay at £100,000.
Councillor Ian Bevan said “The impact of this overspend and the rejection of significant savings by the Labour Party could well be very significant for Ramsbottom taxpayers. It is yet more evidence of the mismanagement of Bury Council’s finances by the Labour Party.”
Councillor Ian Schofield added “We know that budgets are tight at the minute, but our proposal to cut back on wasteful spending on excessive Councillors Allowances, Senior Salaries and cancelling schemes that are not needed are sensible and prudent”.
Councillor Rob Hodkinson said “We are very worried about the impact the overspending and mismanagement will have on services for residents in Ramsbottom. We have already lost our Children’s Centre, Skate Park, reduced hours at Ramsbottom Library and crumbling roads. In addition, our Council Tax is increasing. The Labour Party have no plan to manage and organise the way the Council works.”