Council freezes tax for third year in a row

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ARGUMENTS broke out at an Erewash Borough Council meeting as the budget was set for the forthcoming financial year.

Despite council tax being frozen for the third year running, Labour councillors told the Tories it was a ‘mish mash of a budget’ and a ‘pay day loan’ that residents would eventually have to pay for in future years.

The Tories set aside £100,000 for Ilkeston Train Station, £2,000 for parties to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and £3,000 for when the Mercian regiment parade through the borough later this year.

But the Labour party said the budget did not put enough emphasis on resolving the economic situation and addressing youth unemployment, which hit the 1,000 mark across the borough last month.

Councillors said some money should have been spent on appointing an economic regeneration officer and it was a ‘joke’ the Tories had given money to employ another dog warden.

Cllr Howard Griffiths said: “In a situation where youth unemployment is running at 10.5 per cent in the young it seems we should be more serious about addressing the economic difficulty that we are in.

“We need to do something. We need to provide leadership in the community, attract jobs in the borough and have a plan to get us out of this little cul-de-sac that we are in.”

Cllr Frank Phillips added: “It’s a mish mash of a budget. It says an awful lot for what’s in it, and an awful lot for what’s not. There’s nothing in this budget at all for growth and regeneration.

“We do not even have a regeneration officer in post. No economic development officer, no nothing. This authority put more emphasis on dog poo than it does on jobs.”

Cllr Louis Booth told the Tory’s lead member for finance David Stevenson he had ‘got it wrong as always’

He said: “You are striking up major problems for the future.

“You are not keeping pace with inflation. This is a pay day budget. We will all have to pay vastly more in the future.”

But the ruling Conservative group said they listened to what the public wanted and the Labour Party was unnecessarily picking at minor detail.

Cllr Barbara Harrison said: “There are a lot of things in this budget that is in response to what the public has asked for. I am delighted there has been so much investment in our town centres, for example.”

Cllr Simon Walton echoed Cllr Harrison’s comments.

“We are trying to provide a place to encourage everyone to come and live and work so please support the budget and stop criticising little details,” he said.

Council leader Chris Corbett sid the budget was ‘robust’ and ‘well built’ and finance officer Cllr Stevenson argued they had addressed the economic situation, saying the new train station in Ilkeston would provide employment.

Cllr Mike Wallis added: “We on this side of the chamber never forget it is other people’s money that we are spending.

“Listening to the opposite side, it seems like they look at it like a competition on who can best spend people’s money.”