In response to Bromsgrove District Council announcing a whopping 4.45% increase in council tax, Labour opposition leader Coun Peter McDonald has struck back by claiming his party’s alternative budget would make £625,000 of savings without costing the local taxpayer anything.
McDonald said he wanted to ‘give services back to the community’ and speaking to the Bromsgrove Standard, the councillor proposed the following drastic measures:
• The council pull out of the £7million IT Spatial Programme, which Labour claimed had so far eaten £5.7million of council taxpayers’ money and was costing more than £500,000 per year to maintain.
• Consultancy fee cuts which Coun McDonald suggested had cost £3million over three years, thus saving £50,000-per-year and cutting £330,000 in fees.
• Cuts to what he calls the chief executive’s ‘biscuit tin’ from an alleged £75,000 to £45,000 and suggests axing the councillors IT helpdesk, which, Coun McDonald claimed cost £25,000.
The councillor says: “These changes avoid tax increases and leave enough money to return £50,000 to the balances, which allows us to engage more with the community and give services back to them.”
It might be unexpected to hear of a council’s Labour group coming up with such a vast array of measures that don’t hit the taxpayer in their pocket, but Coun McDonald and his colleagues have certainly flipped expectations on their head with this alternative budget.
Importantly, they have demonstrated that there are areas within this council that are haemorrhaging money, and although they are not proposing a tax cut, we should certainly be applauding the attitude of this Labour group towards giving the taxpayer value for money.
Whether once in power Coun McDonald would actually make the stated cuts or shy away from many of these bold suggestions is impossible to predict, but the fact remains that whilst the controlling Conservative Group are squeezing every last penny from their local ratepayers, their steep council tax hike is being shown-up as an exercise in money-grabbing to fuel wasteful spending.
If the Conservative Group at Bromsgrove District Council want to remain in power then they must compete with this budget, and the only way they can is by going that extra mile and offering their financially pressured residents an overdue tax-cut.