Tory council urged to press Chancellor to maintain taxes

A full meeting of North Yorkshire Council. Picture: LDRS.

Liberal Democrat councillors are calling for the Conservative-run authority responsible for running services in the Prime Minister’s constituency to write to the Government calling for next month’s Budget to feature significant extra funding for council services.

In a notice of motion tabled to a full meeting of North Yorkshire Council on Wednesday, Pateley Bridge and Ripon councillors Andrew Murday and Barbara Brodigan are asking for England’s largest council by area to press Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt not to reduce taxes to fund the investment.

The proposal is set to be considered as the authority debates its spending plan for the coming year, which includes using its dwindling reserves to cover a £41.6m deficit, despite having made numerous efficiency savings from becoming a unitary authority.

To help maintain services, the meeting will see the council’s 90 elected community representatives consider levying an average increase of almost £90 in annual council tax payments from April.

The council’s leadership has maintained that the financial pressures coming from increasing costs for social care and special educational needs and disability services are unsustainable without more funding and that the long-awaited review of funding for local government is needed urgently.

The council’s Tory leaders have repeatedly stated they have lobbied the Government for extra funding to provide services across the large area for several years, and have worked with national local government bodies to highlight the pressures certain services are facing.

However, ahead of the meeting Coun Murday said the council was having to make unacceptable cuts to services just to avoid what would become a catastrophic financial deficit.

He pointed towards proposals for budget savings this year including reductions in home-to-school transport provision and support to local communities.

Coun Murday said: “Clearly local government is not getting sufficient funding for the services it should provide or has to provide. You don’t have to drive very far around North Yorkshire to discover the roads are in an absolutely chaotic mess. The services the council provides have been decimated.

“Somebody has just written to me about visitors slipping over on a path because leaves haven’t been cleared. The general standard of care is just appalling. I find it embarrassing to go to parish councils every week to be told how awful the services are.

“That’s not the fault of any of the officers or councillors. I am almost ashamed of the services the council provides and we have to be clear the services are so poor is because there simply isn’t the money to provide them. There isn’t a single service working properly.”

Councillor Gareth Dadd, the authority’s deputy leader and finance boss, who declined to comment on the notice of motion ahead of the meeting, has previously emphasised the council is focusing its available funding on preserving services for the most vulnerable residents.

Leader of the council’s Labour group, Councillor Steve Shaw Wright said: “I do think North Yorkshire has more things to concentrate on – it’s a bit of a futile gesture and yahoo politics.”

2 Comments

  1. Does this councillor seriously think people want to pay more taxes just to sweep up leaves because a visitor could not cope with them? Our Dales countryside is full of leaves on the ground. What we want to see is the council using our existing taxes more efficiently and more effectively. We do not all have inflated salaries and gold plated pensions like many council officers have at our expense.

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