All the councils have now decided their budgets and council tax rates for the next financial year.
Ashfield District Council is to raise their part of the council tax by 1.94%. I am firmly not in agreement with this and voted against this proposal at the budget meeting on March 3.
In fact, the Independents put forward an alternative budget based on the rate of council tax remaining the same. Our alternative budget provided for no council tax rise, more services not less and made more than the required savings in one year.
We did this by looking at the top layer of management and after careful consideration decided that the authority could function with three less directors. We also looked at councillors’ allowances and put forward a reduction of £217,000.
This proposal would do away with special responsibility allowances and would give a flat rate of £5,000 per year. Also included within our budget was the closure of the canteens which cost the taxpayer £80,000 every year. These are just a few examples of where we Independents would make savings, which would have resulted in a zero per cent rise in council tax.
Not only did we look at savings but at income generation too. We put forward ideas that would bring money into the council instead of dipping into your pockets and taking your hard earned money. Independents proposed that the authority allow advertising on the website, bin lorries and bins. This has been proven to work as other councils do it and based on facts, a modest income of £50,000 could be made in the first year alone.
We also suggested that the depot in Sutton be allowed to carry out more MOTs, doing just two extra MOTs a week would bring in £4,000.
All our proposals were voted down and a decision taken to increase your council tax and cut your services, this just didn’t need to happen in our view.
In total, our budget made £1.7m of savings and with income generation but we would have put back £355,000 into services. Our proposals were to have free parking throughout Ashfield, four more community protection officers and three more litter pickers. I am sure that standards of services will fall. Already officers are using the phrase “manage expectation” to me which, in my opinion, translates as lower standards.
It seems that Labour is devoid of ideas and appears to simply opt for the easiest way of getting money and that is to put up your council tax.
Cllr Gail Turner