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Ealing and Northfield

Their hands in your pockets

The Gazette is reporting that after two years of council tax freezes delivered by the Tories, the new Labour administration is going to do the same again next year, see here. Good news.

Labour promised to freeze council tax next year in its manifesto, see here. One of their headline promises was:

Keeping your council tax low with a freeze in the first year.

One of the key objectives of the Tory opposition for the next four years is going to be to box Labour in and make sure that council tax is not allowed to spiral out of control after next year. We know their track record, they raised council tax by 48% in their last term of office. The Tory record by comparison was 1.9%, 1.9%, 0%, 0% or 3.84% over four years.

The new coalition government has offered to help local authorities to deliver freezes for two years running so we tabled the following motion for discussion at council on Tuesday:

This Council notes the administration’s manifesto pledge to freeze council tax levels for the 2011/12 budget year. The Council further notes the Government’s announcement of additional funding to enable councils to freeze council tax for the same financial year.

Council resolves to take advantage of this additional funding and pledges to freeze council tax levels in Ealing for the 2011/12 financial year. Council further resolves to use the money the administration has earmarked for next year’s council tax freeze to further freeze council tax for the 2012/13 financial year.

Labour voted against this motion and instead tabled and voted through this motion:

This Council notes and welcomes the Labour administration’s pledge to freeze the council tax levels for the 2011/12 budget year.

This Council notes that any monies we might receive from the coalition government in order to freeze council tax must also cover the cost of cuts we already know about, namely the £1.832m already announced last week and our next round of cuts on 22nd June 2010.

This Council makes a commitment that we will live within our means and make our major aim the protection of frontline services, despite the government’s draconian cuts which will affect the most vulnerable in society.

Note their change in language. Instead of “keeping your council tax low” as per their manifesto they are now saying “we will live within our means and make our major aim the protection of frontline services”. By “live within our means” what they really mean is their judgement of what they can take from you. Watch out!