Labour held power in Lancashire for 28 years until the Conservatives gained control in a remarkable victory in 2009. The council is now hung but run by the Labour Party with the help from the Lib Dems. The Council Tax is being increased by a referendum dodging 1.99 per cent. It was only possible due to the votes of Lib Dem councillors in County Hall pushing it through. That contrasts with last year under the Conservatives when it was cut by two per cent.
To be fair those who voted Lib Dem had a clue what they were letting themselves in for. The Lib Dem Group leader Cllr Bill Winlow said the Council Tax cut last year would “benefit the better off.” In fact the Council Tax burden is three times higher for the poor than the rich. Still at least we had a pretty clear idea that Cllr Winlow favours Council Tax rises. However I don’t think the Labour council leader Cllr Jennifer Mein can claim such a mandate. Yet they refuse to put the matter to a referendum – even though the Polling Stations will be functioning anyway on May 22nd for the Euro Elections.
By contrast Conservative-run South Ribble Borough Council has frozen its share of the bills. The Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Stephen Robinson says:
Despite reductions of around 57% in our Government grant over five years I am recommending to the Council this evening that our share of Council Tax is frozen for the fourth time in five years.
Unfortunately the bills that will drop onto our residents’ doormats over the next two to three weeks will show an increase in the amounts payable. This is because the Labour administration at County Hall has raised the County Council precept by 1.99% as has the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner.
This is an especially bitter pill to swallow as the Commissioner’s budget is underspent for the current year and he has also declared that even though the police precept is rising there will be no extra police officers. Same old Labour – don’t bother managing situations or search for tenable solutions, just raise tax and increase spending. Very familiar isn’t it?