Council tax frozen in Harrow Conservatives' budget labelled 'reckless' by opposition Labour group

Harrow Times: Council leader Susan Hall insisted the budget was fair Council leader Susan Hall insisted the budget was fair

Council tax will be frozen by the Conservatives in Harrow under a raft of changes to Labour’s proposed budget for the next four years.

The ruling Tory group, led by Councillor Susan Hall, have made a total of 66 amendments to the proposed accounts since taking over from the previous Labour administration in May.

Among them are plans to reduce the authority’s capital debt of a quarter of a billion pounds by £20million over the next four years.

But leaders of the ousted Labour group labelled the budget proposals “reckless, irresponsible and unfair” and accused the administration of adopting a “get now, pay later” approach in the run up to May’s elections.

Labour group leader David Perry said the Tory’s decision to increase the council’s revenue deficit by £8million failed to live up to the party promise of a fair budget for taxpayers.

Council leader Susan Hall insisted this week her party were committed to their values of fairness, pointing to savings made with policies including a controversial decision to cancel free parking in North Harrow and cash incentives from central government.

Speaking to the Harrow Times this week, she said: “We’re not trying to get brownie points for the election. We’re more concerned about stability.

“We’re among the highest council tax payers in the country and our decision to freeze council tax helps the poorest households.”

Having taken the reigns following the political equivalent of musical chairs at the civic offices this summer, Councillor Hall says finance officers found dozens of savings listed in the Labour budget that were “unachievable”.

Councillor Hall said: “We were horrified by the finances when we took over – there were caveats we would never allow. The previous administration was very unwise in the way it was handling things – you can’t just put off trouble and problems.

“To say it is frustrating would be mild but I hope it has been seen that we’re doing something positive, we’re moving the council forward and looking after our residents.”

The Tories will require a majority vote to pass the budget when it comes before the full council in February, and Councillor Hall admitted guaranteeing the support of opposition members might “depend on which day of the week it is”.

Responding the budget proposals today, Labour group leader Councillor Perry said: “This reckless, irresponsible and unfair budget is what we have come to expect from Susan Hall.

“I’m proud to lead a Labour party in Harrow, which will always put those most in need at the centre of what we do, while ensuring the council is on a sound financial footing.

“This Tory budget does the complete opposite and £3million has been taken away from helping people most in need in order to pay for Susan’s populist election campaign niceties.”

Comments (1)

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3:07pm Wed 4 Dec 13

SeaBee says...

'Having taken the reigns' or possibly taken the reins.
'Having taken the reigns' or possibly taken the reins. SeaBee

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