Council tax set to rise 4.5%

MEETING: The Vale Council's offices in Barry (4245977)

MEETING: The Vale Council's offices in Barry (4245977)

First published in News

THE Vale Council leader has warned things “will get harder” after cabinet members agreed proposals to set a 4.5 percent council tax increase.

Decision-makers, at the authority’s cabinet meeting on Monday, nodded through proposals to make service cuts of more than £7million and tap £2million from its Reserve funds.

Councillors also approved a £214.331million budget, including a provision of £200,000 for discretionary rate relief to rural shops and post offices and charitable organisations.

Residents in a typical Band D property are set to pay £1,029.42 if the rise, not including police and community council precept, is agreed at the authority’s full council meeting on March 4.

Vale Council leader Cllr Neil Moore said: “This is a hard year, but there’s going to be harder years to come.”

But Tory opposition politicians have slammed the increase – claiming it is “outrageous”.

Vale MP Alun Cairns said: “I cannot believe the cheek of the Vale Council cabinet. It is a slap in the face of hard-working people in Barry and the Vale.

“Council taxpayers will be infuriated and rightly so - especially after tens of thousands of pounds were spent on new chairs for the council chamber, on top of the hundreds of thousands of pounds they spent on its renovation. They are clearly out of touch with local feeling.

"At a time when everyone is trying to recover from the deepest recession in a century, the Vale Cabinet knows how to make people feel angry.

“I hope that the full council will reject this increase that is more than twice the rate of inflation. It is important that we all contact our individual councillors to let them know what we think."

He added: "It is fair to say that the Welsh government give us one of the poorest funding settlements in Wales but the council cabinet refuse to join an all-party campaign to support a better deal. In light of their inaction, they should hold their heads in shame.”

Vale-based South Wales Central AM Andrew RT Davies said: “We all appreciate the financial pressure that local authorities are under following the Welsh Labour Government’s cuts to the budget this year and as Finance Minister Jane Hutt must bear some responsibility for this.

“In England, under the Conservative-led coalition, council tax has again been frozen and the treasury has made money available to the Welsh Government to do the same.

“Welsh Conservatives have long campaigned for a freeze in council tax, yet Jane Hutt and her Labour colleagues refuse to use that money to freeze council tax here in Wales.

“This move by the Labour-led Vale Council will cost the average family an extra £50 and will hit the least well off hardest.”

But Vale AM, Jane Hutt said public finances had been hit hard by UK Government cuts.

Ms Hutt said: “It is vital that local authorities support the local services that people value and need - our schools, social services, housing and transport.

“I know that is what the Vale Council is seeking to do in their budget for the people we serve.”

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