WHITBY LOOKS AT 1.9% TAX RISE
Council tax in Birmingham is likely to rise by an above inflation 1.9% next year following a private meeting of the city’s Tory Cabinet members. The news comes amid brighter prospects for the local authority’s budget deficit – but is still likely to upset cost conscious Conservative backbenchers.
Leader Mike Whitby and his inner circle of elite councillors apparently met with a senior Council officer on Tuesday to settle how much taxpayers will have to pay the Council from next April – and they settled on the same 1.9% figure used by the “Progressive Partnership” since it came to power in 2004.
The difference is that this time, it represents an above inflation increase.
What’s also intriguing is that the Tories’ coalition allies the Liberal Democrats were absent from the discussions, emphasising their junior role in the partnership.
Backbench councillors on Whitby’s own side were also excluded, and when it was suggested that they might object, the leader is said to have remarked, “We can’t have the tail wagging the dog”.
There are those on the right of the party who argue that a lower tax increase could have been delivered if the Council had be more vigorously restructured in the “fat years”.
Critics argue that the leadership was complacent, with the result that cuts which are necessary now will be much harder to implement – and are likely to have a greater adverse impact on the public.
There’s also criticism among Conservative councillors of Whitby's “grandiose projects” – notably the new Central Library.
On a more positive note for the leader, the Council reports today that it’s financial position is improving, with the projected annual overspend down from £11.6 million to £9.9 million.
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