Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Council Reaches Impasse on Annual Budget

Reading's local politicians will reconvene tonight after another marathon session in which they failed to reach a decision on the borough's Annual Budget.

Residents will now need to wait to find out by how much our £100m+ income will vary and how it will be spent.

Jane collects a couple of reactions from opposition bench councillors Richard Willis (Con) and Glenn Goodall (LibDem), but Labour have yet to react to their humiliation and are still publishing their proposals as news.

The rundown: Labour proposed a rise in Council Tax to increase spending on areas of weakness, which was defeated by an alliance of opposition parties.

The LibDems moved a compromise amendment to trim spending on waste (on consultancy and agency fees), introduce a levy on bulky waste and keep wasteful tax rises to a minimum, but this was also laid to waste - this time by a grand alliance of the two larger parties.

The Conservatives made it plain that they support a variety of across the board but unspecified service cuts and charge increases as they seek to implement a unilateral freeze on Council Tax. However they actively worked only as wreckers to any agreement without introducing any proposals themselves.

Oranjepan says:
Cllr Willis's references make it plain that the Conservatives are preparing to mount a revolution outside of an election year. Will they succeed? We'll find out tonight!

Update: Welcome back to the blogosphere to Cllr Emma Warman (Con). She says her party opposed raising the Council Tax to stop Reading being squeezed dry, but she doesn't explain why Reading's group of opposition Conservatives contradict Conservative groups across Berkshire where they are in charge. Neither does she explain why no alternate proposals were forthcoming from her side.

Reading Chronicle fails to meet it's publishing deadline.

Former LibDem Councillor Annette Hendry has added an informative comment:
I sat and listened to the Budget debate from the public gallery on Tuesday. I was particularly worried that Reading has a bunch of Conservative Cllrs, who are aspiring to take control next year, but seem unable to make any positive contribution to setting the Council's annual budget - a basic responsibility for a council. Their speeches raised more questions than they answered. Where will they get the extra money they want to spend on some services while freezing council tax? If they're so concerned with keeping down costs, why did they oppose the cuts put forward by the Lib Dems? Why did the Tories have no specific costed suggestions of their own to make? Why did the Tory leader oppose the budget by saying, "It's not right for these times", without any indication of what would be right? This poor performance won't do. Neither is it advisable to make statements like, "If you want the lowest possible council Tax then Conservatives will provide that", when Conservative controlled Wokingham have just announced a Council tax rise of 4.68%! This compares with Labour's proposed rise of 4.24% and the Lib Dems' proposal of 3.9% in Reading.


Click here for a full comparison of Council Tax rises in the different local authorities across Berkshire.


  1. Yet more spin.

    "This compares with Labour's proposed rise of 4.24% and the Lib Dems' proposal of 3.9% in Reading"

    Libs did not propose 3.9%, if you want to put it to two decimal places then it's 4.0%. They proposed 3.99%. A very cunning plan for people thinking it's a huge amount lower than Labour, it's actually 0.25%, which amounts to a couple of pounds.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Anon. Just remember, please, not to shoot the messenger.

    There is wide agreement on the futility of quibbling over percentage points. I'd actually much rather there was more informed discussion of what hides behind the statistics and what implications this has for our town.

    Perhaps you could start off by making a concrete suggestion - will you for example be supporting the move for £75,000 funding to make the Heavenly Festival free?

  3. Yes I'd agree about the quibbling over percentage points, but lets at least get the facts right before they are published!


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