Labour unsure of Tory tax freezes

NRHNBE120222c1, Amber valley borough council building, Ripley.
NRHNBE120222c1, Amber valley borough council building, Ripley.

A Tory leader predicted a two-year council tax freeze in Amber Valley but provoked a doubtful response from Labour.

The debate at Wednesday night’s full council meeting was prompted by a government decision to trim nearly £1million from its handout to the borough council, which will now receive £2.6million in the new financial year.

The Conservative-led authority is planning £4million cuts over four years - but could still be in the red by 2016.

But council leader Stuart Bradford said they hoped to help taxpayers.

“Council tax will not rise in Amber Valley this year. And there will be no council tax rise probably in 2014,” he told a meeting of the authority.

And in a direct comment to Labour, he added:”We have a balanced budget for three years and I am expecting it to continue for another year.

“I know what is going on - you don’t. That is the difference between being in control and in opposition.”

But Labour leader Paul Jones replied:”I don’t share your optimism. The council is running an operational loss of £1million a year.”

He said the most hard-up residents would pay more council tax because of an 8.5per cent cut in benefits, claiming that would bite hard in towns like Heanor, Ripley and Alfreton.

And Cllr Jones also feared the borough may fail to pass on £186,505 Whitehall cash to parish councils, saying that would again add to the burden of people in struggling areas.

The controlling Conservative group is proposing f 21 cost-saving measures to meet the budget restraints over the next two years.

If all 21 are approved by councillors, they will save the authority £849,000 - although some of the measures, totalling a quarter a of the projected savings, are reliant on outside circumstances.

The 21 measures include saving £8,000 by reducing the number of plants the borough’s landscape services department place around the borough by 75 per cent. Other measures include renting out part of the council offices - saving a possible £81,000.

Cllr Jones has previously stated that the borough’s garden waste collection service should be axed.