Council tax goes up as Islington Council approves budget for 2016/17
PUBLISHED: 10:30 26 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:18 29 February 2016
Islington Council last night approved its 2016/17 budget aimed at tackling youth violence and protecting vital services in the face of "savage cuts".
Council tax will increase by 2 per cent after the budget was overwhelmingly approved at a packed town hall meeting,
It passed by 47 votes, with just one councillor – lone opposition figure Cllr Caroline Russell – abstaining.
Speaking at the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Cllr Richard Greening said: “We have a very important decision to make tonight to set the council’s budget in an era of unprecedented financial pressure from central government.
“We have to manage those savage cuts the best we can to protect our vital services.”
As part of the budget proposals, an extra £500,000 will be spent on mentors to turn vulnerable lives around to help tackle youth crime in the borough.
Last year, teenagers Alan Cartwright, 15, Stefan Appleton, 18, and Vaso Kakko, 17, were stabbed to death in the borough, while knife crime was at a five-year high since 2010.
Grants to the community and voluntary sector and youth service budgets will also be protected.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Kat Fletcher said: “While no one relishes it, I for one am proud of the politics laid out in this document – the politics of protecting our frontline services, housing and social care.
“Islington is a wonderful place to live. It’s a lively and engaging borough because of the voluntary and community groups that do so much.”
Council leader Cllr Richard Watts also stressed the importance of protecting the borough’s community and voluntary sector.
“At a time when it couldn’t be easier to cut back on support for the sector I’m proud that an Islington Labour budget protects the things that matter,” he said.
“We can change this borough – we can make a difference on the things that matter. We can fight this government and we can make this borough a better place to live as we have done for the last five years.
“I stand with you. I fight with you and we do it because we hate the Tories. We will get this government out and we will make this borough a better place.”
But with £24million to save in the coming year – and a total of £70m over the next four years – the council said it would be putting up council tax.
The council will have to make about 100 redundancies from its 4,500 staff, although most have already been earmarked as voluntary.
Just two amendments were proposed by the Green councillor Caroline Russell.
She suggested ceasing the production of Islington Life magazine and using the money to support Bright Sparks, a reuse and repair service that provides essential household items to low-income residents.
And she proposed putting up parking charges to pay for bike parking and a pair of enforcement officers to walk the streets telling drivers to switch off their engines when idling.
Both her suggestions were thrown out by the council.