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25 February 2008

7.56% is real tax increase in Council budget

7.56% is the real tax increase residents are facing this year. Directly, residents are going to be charged a 3.95% Council tax increase. However, with all of the hikes in other fees and charges and the introduction of new fees planned by the Conservative Cabinet, the real figure is 7.56%.

New and increased charges in this budget include: the introduction of charges for on-street parking for disabled drivers; increases in charges for services for older people; an increase of 56% for residents’ parking permits; increases in park and ride fares; extensions to other car park charges; and a 10% increase in garden and bulky waste charges.

This Conservative budget appears to have a low Council tax rise, but when all the other charges and fees are taken into account, the real burden on residents is much higher.

The budget will hit vulnerable people with high charges; it will punish drivers, without improving traffic flows; it will delay, put off or abandon important environmental measures, such as same-day collection and extending recycling; and it will exacerbate problems through cuts to the Council’s youth and other services.

The Liberal Democrats believe this Tory budget of service cuts and increased charges is fundamentally flawed. We have fought hard for improvements, and will be proposing an amendment which is intended to reduce the burden on older people and the vulnerable, to help protect services for young people and to put environmental protection high on the agenda.

By trying to claim a low Council tax increase on the one hand and introducing new fees and increased charges on the other, the Tory Cabinet is driving our authority into the sand, putting its head in after it and blaming everyone else.

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