Peterborough City Council has gone ahead with its very damaging proposal to increase the Council tax by 2.95%. The opposition councillors from the Lib Dems, Labour and the independents all backed an alternative budget which would have frozen the Council Tax and included a cut in councillor allowances. An episode of political role reversal with opposition councillors expressing concern about the "burden to residents" of the Council Tax and arguing that to justify the increase as "modest" was insensitive to those for whom "every penny counts." Meanwhile it fell to the Conservative councillors to put the case for socialism, for taking more money from families to be spent by the state.
Two more councillors have resigned from the Conservative Group to become independents – Cllr Pat Nash and Cllr Fran Benton. I presume they voted against the Council Tax rise although their resignations were prompted by wider disputes over deselection. However the resignation of Cllr Michael Fletcher was specifically over the Council Tax rise.
The council has a total debt of £125 million. They don't seem to say what their interest bill is on that. But even with low interest the annual cost must be millions. What priority is given to selling surplus buildings to get this debt down? As well as achieving the further savings that "shrinking the office footprint" provides? It doesn't sound as though this is the focus at all.
The Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Matthew Lee, said:
"This council has made great investment. We will continue to invest in buildings to keep them in best condition."
Perhaps he thinks stacking up more debt by the council "investing" in buying up more buildings for their bureaucrats to sit in would also be a cause for celebration?