"The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and
open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values
of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall
be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."
(Preamble to the Party Constitution).
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Small tax increase delivery people's priorities
A below-inflation tax increase, and a budget that invests in local people's priorities. That's the verdict of Harlow's Liberal Democrat leadership on Harlow Council's budget, agreed on Thursday 15 February. Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Chris Millington seconded the budget proposals. He said:
"This budget will result in a council tax increase of only 1.9% - less than 9p per week. This compares favourably with the national average council tax increase; with the 3.5% increase set by Conservatives in neighbouring Epping Forest; and with the inflation-busting 4.5% increase set by Conservatives on Essex County Council.
It's a budget that shows Harlow Council investing in its priorities - priorities that have been backed by our 'people's panel' of local residents. There's more money for environmental initiatives, such as recycling bins for flat blocks, environmental health, and enforcement.
We've invested money now to help us save money in the future - strengthening our audit function, reviewing staff accommodation and leases, and restructuring our legal service. And we've listened to local people, putting in money to support residents' associations, and committing £60,000 to carry out actions arising from the very successful scrutiny into last summer's floods.
Finally, our housing capital programme shows the council continuing to invest, including door entry systems and garage refurbishments. And, of course, the biggest change of all for the council is the successful transfer of our repairs operations to our new joint venture company, Kier Harlow.
Liberal Democrats believe the council tax is an unfair tax, and should be scrapped in favour of a fairer system based on ability to pay. It hits pensioners and those on low incomes especially hard. That's why, until it's replaced, it's vitally important to keep council tax increases as low as we can. The council has now committed not to increase the council tax above inflation in future years."