Paul Bristow is Managing Director of PB Consulting, and is standing in Ravensthorpe Ward, Peterborough in the 2018 local elections.
I read with interest the excellent article from Mark Wallace stating that Corbyn ally, Chris Williamson MP, was trying to overcome the unpopularity of higher taxes with his new council tax proposals. Legislation prevents councils exceeding the cap on council tax rises by only allowing this after local voters approve it in a referendum. Winning this battle is what the huge tapering rises for Band D properties and above, contained within the Williamson plan, is designed to achieve. This will be incredibly attractive to Labour led councils and Labour oppositions across the country.
Much has been made of the potential Momentum takeover in Haringey and the outlandish 200 per cent council tax increase calls from Momentum in Bristol. But the far left have embedded themselves in town halls across the country and will be eyeing up the Williamson plan. As Conservatives we must hold them to account on their council tax plans, proposals, and attitudes.
In Peterborough, the Labour Opposition Leader is Cllr Ed Murphy who has long been a vocal supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and his style of politics. He has already said he would support council tax rises of up to 15 per cent which would mean rises of £222 and above (if you count the parish precept) for an average Band D property. Momentum has been active across the City and played a key role in winning the constituency for Labour at the 2017 General Election.
Standing in Cllr Murphy’s Ravensthorpe Ward in Peterborough in 2018, I have been relentless in challenging him over his call for 15 per cent council tax increases. I have written to Peterborough’s Labour MP, Fiona Onasanya, asking if she agrees with his call and if she will distance herself from Momentum. She has yet to respond. The local Conservatives and I have been overwhelmed by the response from local people who were not aware of the council tax attitudes of their local councillor and support our call for the local MP to intervene.
Most people expect the local elections to be tough for the Conservatives in May. Certainly the Labour Party is polling better than they were in 2014 when many seats were last defended and in 2016 when the Peterborough City Council last had local elections. However, there is an opportunity to go out and tell people what is at stake in these local elections. Local people rely on Conservatives to run crucial public services, root out waste, and keep taxes low. We must make clear what the alternative Labour tax plans would mean – potentially pitting neighbour against neighbour as some tax bands are spared huge increases whilst others have swingeing increases after a phony referendum. Town hall finance and public services are too important for a far left Corbyn experiment.