Monday, 2 March 2009

Council Tax Rise Set at 3.99%

Reading's 19 Labour, 8 Liberal Democrat and one Independent councillors have all agreed to support proposed spending plans for 2009/10, passing the £120m budget almost before any latecomers had taken their seats.

The revised plan essentially sees Labour cave in to all LibDem demands, reversing the position which saw an amendment defeated in the first installment of these sessions.

Tories were left fuming on the sidelines as they failed in their attempt to topple the minority Labour administration with a series of partisan blocking tactics and angrily branded the announcement the start of a Labour-LibDem coalition - Conservative group leader, Andrew Cumpsty, and his deputy, Tom Steele, complained they had both cancelled holiday plans out of a sense of 'civic responsibility' to attend the 15-minute session.

LibDem leader Cllr Gareth Epps, who brokered the cross-party deal, described the Conservative approach as 'disgraceful', explaining that their behaviour had threatened to paralyse the services offered by the local authority.

Update: Jane catches on to the news.

Cllr Glenn Goodall responds to claims that the Libdems are 'propping up' the dying Labour administration, identifying the lack of any alternative proposals from the Conservatives as the major factor limiting the voting choices for councillors.

Experienced independent councillor, Tony Jones, explains why he voted for the budget and warns the Conservatives about the consequences of their disingenuity.


  1. I presume this is an April Fools joke. lol. Would be funny if Lib Dems went for 3.99%.

  2. Forgot to put my name to the above post (at 22:28).

    I've stopped laughing now, apparently this is not a joke.

    To any Lib Dems reading, I cannot afford a Council Tax increase, I am struggling to pay what I owe at the moment. This is, dare I say it, a complete farce.

  3. Thanks Chipper.

    I'm sorry to hear about your predicament, just remember that you and many other people may come to depend on more council service in the near future.

    We can all look at our immediate personal circumstances, but it is also important for politicians to be able to look beyond them at the needs of the whole public.

  4. Thanks for your patronising response. I read somewhere you are actually a lib dem cllr on Reading? If this is true, can you please answer why you voted for this... surely you cannot reasonably expect people to be happy with a 3.99% (Tesco's 4%) tax increase. Maybe we pay cllr's far too much.

  5. Cllr Gareth Epps2 March 2009 at 23:16

    He is not a Lib Dem Councillor, but I am.

    I spoke to officers during last week to see whether the amount we proposed putting back into the Council's reserves could go to further reduce the Council Tax increase. I was told in no uncertain terms that it could not, and officers would formally warn the Council against voting for a lower rise were it tabled.

    Councillors eventually voted for the lowest Council Tax rise on the table.

  6. I apologise if you thought I was being patronising, Chipper.

    I am not a councillor and I also struggle to pay my Council Tax.

    Setting the level of tax is a juggling act for our elected representatives. They must balance the competing demands of all sections of the community while complying with regulations which are designed to ensure standards of financial stability is maintained. This is a tough job at the best of times, and even then it is likely that not everybody will be pleased.

    Would you rather sacrifice essential services, sacrifice economic competence or try to find a workable solution? If the latter, then everything all depends on the fine print.

    Ultimately reform of the system is required, but that is a major debate which has only just begun.

  7. ..and the truth shall set you free!

    '..the lowest Council Tax rise on the table' and the lib dems were forced to do this by Officers? So Labour didn't cave in to Lib Dem demands, but rather were told the limits of their actions by officers? Power to the people!

  8. I suspect the Labour budget was written by officers and they simply wrote their names on the cover.

    We went as low as we could with council tax, and then throw in some extras to tackle ASB and fly-tipping. We held fast and didn't cave-in to Labours bullying.

    Tories added nothing to the debate except hollow words. The talk of a Lib/Lab pact is hilarious, if that were true then our proposals would have been in the budget and it would have been voted for in one day! If they ever do get in where do you think they will cut millions out of the budget to pay for a 0 % rise? Streetcare? Sell off the town hall? Shut the Library's? Child services?


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