THE PORTION of Council Tax going to Bromsgrove District Council will go up by 2.5 per cent after the Conservative Group’s budget was narrowly voted through by 16 votes to 14 on Wednesday.
That will mean a Band D council taxpayer in an unparished area will pay £1,595.15 per year.
The proposal, presented by Coun Geoff Denaro, also recommended the release of £849,000 from the reserve funds to protect frontline services.
Coun Denaro said: “While we have conveyed some small steps in savings and efficiencies, this is only just the beginning.
“We will continue our work over this coming year within the budget, to look at all the areas – and I think Coun Mallett has highlighted some we need to look at.”
Earlier in the meeting, Coun Mallett – the Labour Group Leader – mentioned several areas of concern, including growing overheads for a ‘shrinking organisation,’ the ‘costly’ move from Burcot Lane to Parkside and council spending on consultancy fees, legal costs and agency staff.
In response, Coun Denaro said: “It is not our aim to cut slash or anything – but we will look for efficienties where we can find them.”
At the meeting, the Labour Party proposed to postpone the setting of the budget and Council Tax rates until the second week of March.
It also proposed a cross-party meeting with MP Sajid Javid and to establish an emergency working group of Conservative, Labour and Independent members to put together a ‘unity budget’.
Coun Chris Bloore said: “The Conservative Government has dramatically reduced the funding given to local councils to support key frontline services.
“Our district is represented by a member of the Cabinet.
“He has the ear of the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Local Government and should be fighting for a better financial deal for his residents.”
Coun Bloore said the Conservative budget failed to address the seriousness of the problems ahead.
“We were promised a radical reform of the council and zero-based budgeting which we didn’t get.
“We can’t support a budget that raises tax and charges for services when the council isn’t prepared to address these fundamental issues.
Coun Bloore added: “The Labour amendment to put politics aside and work together won support from the IAG.”
But he added, with all the Conservative group voting together, it was not to be.