Conservative-run Hillingdon Council are freezing the Council Tax for the second year running.
Savings include £250,000 on "Individualised Budgets and Direct Payments:Savings to be achieved with implementation of the personalisation agenda." Another £88,000 is being saved by Building Control ceasing to offer "non-fee earning professional advice." A post in the Local Development Framework team is being deleted saving £22,000 – pretty typical of a large number of small admin savings that amount to a lot.
By contrast Lib Dem run Kingston upon Thames, which already has the highest Council Tax in London is piling on the agony for their local residents with a rise of 1.9%. This is a council beset by mismanagement, where costs on pet projects run out of control and bureaucracy escalates. Their hubris is encapsulated by them then spending £30,770.20 on an event to celebrate their success at saving money. They have also failed to provide good services – being given a red flag last year for their housing management failures.
The Conservative opposition leader Cllr Howard Jones will set out the Conservative alternative at the Budget Council tonight. But his speech last year showed we can expect a sharp contrast. He said:
An approach perhaps more in line with Hammersmith and Fulham would be appropriate. The Conservative administration there has demonstrated brilliantly how a cost effective council can be run. After almost 4 decades in opposition, the Conservatives took control in the Hammersmith and Fulham Council elections in 2006. Since that time, the Conservative Council have cut council tax by 3% three years in a row.
Average council taxes in H&F are now £350 lower than they would have been had the Council maintained the previous rate of increased spending. Competitive tendering and good management and financial planning has had the double benefit of improving services while cutting costs. Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Hounslow, Wandsworth and Boris’s London are models to follow not Richmond and other high spending Liberal Democrat administrations.
Mr Mayor we are fed up paying the highest Council tax in London, the residents are fed up with paying the highest Council tax in London – we demand more for our money and we demand lower taxation.
So there will be a clear choice in Kingston in the Council elections on May 6. For those residents fed up with the highest Council Tax bills in London and substandard services who want improved services the remedy will be at hand.