Council tax hike of 3.75% in Suffolk

A LABOUR move to halt spending on controversial plans for an incinerator in Suffolk and to use the savings to reduce next year's rise in council tax and to restore spending on social care was rejected last night by the county council.

A LABOUR move to halt spending on controversial plans for an incinerator in Suffolk and to use the savings to reduce next year's rise in council tax and to restore spending on social care was rejected last night by the county council.

Instead, the Conservative controlled authority voted to increase council tax by 3.75%. For average Band D properties in the county, this works out at 74p a week to £1,073.88 a year, with householders having to add district and parish taxes and the charge from Suffolk police authority.

Labour's leader Julian Swainson, who proposed a 2.9% rise, said the government had given Suffolk £10m extra to help with the growing demands on social care.

“The council should be using that money to ensure that services for those in need are well funded and that council tax is as low as possible.

“Instead of a sensible approach, the Tories have spread the money out too thinly, over the wrong areas - leaving consultants, public relations and the incinerator project with more money than ever before, while council tax payers are hit with large rises and social care struggles under the weight of cuts.”

He said Labour would halt additional spending on the proposed incinerator. “We would have targeted the money at the areas most in need. After three years of cuts and with the county's growing elderly population, there can be no doubt that social care is the service that needs the most investment.”

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Liberal Democrat group leader Kathy Pollard criticised the Tories' green record. She said: “The settlement from Government was better than expected and it gave the administration room to be inventive.

“With the real effects of climate change becoming ever clearer, the settlemnt gave Suffolk a real chance to make a bold statement on the environment. Sadly though, this budget contains nothing innovative and nothing imaginative for tackling green issues.”

Liberal Democrats moved an amendment to reduce the “staggering amount of council business mileage” and the council's energy consumption and to invest the savings into doubling the council's green fund' to £400,000 and in technologies to cut down the need to travel to meetings.

However, the budget was defended by the Tories. Jane Storey, portfolio holder for resource management, said: “This Conservative Administration is not about a quick fix in an election year, unlike the previous Labour-Lib Dem coalition. We are looking for a long-term relationship with the people living in Suffolk, not a one-night stand.”

Graham Newman, portfolio holder for adult and community services, added: “Labour's proposals flawed. The funds we've allocated to this area are fair, prudent and sustainable.

“We will not follow the 'spend now, get in debt later' irresponsibility of the Labour Group. As ever, their motivation is to play political football with the older and more vulnerable, misleading them and the media with a proposition that cannot be sustained.”