The Conservative opposition on Richmondshire Council has condemned the decision of the Independent/Lib Dem administration to increase Council Tax in defiance of a petition from local residents organised by the Taxpayers Alliance opposing the rise. They are also pressing ahead despite a new savings of £70,000 emerging with the departure of the council's shared chief executive Peter Simpson. This makes the tax rise unnecessary even without any further svaings being identified.
The Council, led by Cllr John Blackie, prefers to find vanity projects to spend other people's money on.
Cllr Fleur Butler, a Conservative opposition leader in Richmondshire and granddaughter of Rab, says:
Some Councils just like to spend. Richmondshire District Council at its Full Council had the choice of whether to tax and spend, or to take the opportunity to be a low tax council reducing the burden on taxpayers over a number of years.
In a new budget, members of the Independent Group, led by Cllr Blackie, chose to spend newly identified money, and waste the 92k government grant, rather than to freeze tax.
In February the Independent Group /Liberal Democrat coalition presented a full budget at Strategy board.
The original budget was to reject the government’s offer of a grant to help freeze the council tax but to set it at 3% for 3 years instead raising £55k. It was claimed this was due to financial pressures.
So when new money suddenly appeared just before Full Council to the value of £70k per year in revenue, you might think that Councillors would jump at the chance to lessen the burden on their tax payers and accept the freeze, as was proposed by the Conservatives. Richmondshire could easily afford it now.
Richmondshire had two real choices at its Full Council. One was to accept the government grant, using the new money reduce the burden on taxpayers. The other was spend the money and to keep taxing the residents.
Sadly for residents, all members of the Independent/Lib Dem coalition chose to ignore the petitioners, and lost the opportunity given by this new money.
Council staff are paid 65p per mile for using their cars – far higher than the HMRC recommended rate of 40p per mile.