Cameras for Council meetings for tax rise debate
As the row over the city’s council tax increase continues the City council has announced it will allow people to film the debate on Thursday, although it will not be broadcast by the council.
The move comes following criticism of the move by York and other local authorities to increase council tax whilst others have decreased or frozen taxes. Funds offered by the government to help councils freeze taxes (equal to a rise of 2.5%) this year are described by York’s Labour party as a “Tory council tax con” that they say will lead to more rises later on.
Labour currently are in control on the council, following elections last year. The city’s “fairness commission” recommended a rise of up to 6%, however any rise above 3.5% requires a referendum to be held.
The Conservatives, who are in opposition, have organised a petition against the rise, as well as opposing it in the council. They commented: “It is shameful that as households, private business and government organisations are having to make cut backs and savings that City of York Council feel the need to make a rise to every households bill.”
The Lib Dems, formerly in power, connected the rise with the city’s debts, their spokesman for corporate services Paul Firth saying “After criticising the City of York's debt whilst in opposition, James Alexander seems happy to add massive increases to it now that he's in power. Reckless borrowing from the last Labour government has brought the country to its knees and now he seems intent on bringing the same misery to York.”
By contrast the Greens on the Council have welcomed the rise saying “We support Labour’s decision, following the lead of the Green administration in Brighton, to refuse the Government council tax bribe and propose a two-year budget with a below-inflation increase in council tax. This will prevent council tax hikes in future years and help to protect services.”
However they did assert that “Labour can’t pretend that this budget manages to protect all the services that people need. This is a budget which involves 100 job losses and continues to implement the Tory agenda of privatising council services”.
At the same time work has continued on new offices for the council close to York's railway station, which will cost £107.7m to complete but it is claimed will save £17.4m over a 25 year period compared to staying in the current offices.
Students are exempt from council tax, whilst they benefit from the services provided by City of York Council.