Islington rejects Green bid to double council tax rise to 9.99 per cent
PUBLISHED: 11:31 24 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:37 24 February 2017
Could Islington be the only authority in the country where the controlling party imposes a 4.99 per cent council tax rise – only for the opposition to suggest doubling it?
For Islington’s 2017/18 budget, Labour said it was necessary to raise council tax, at another £1 a week for a Band D property, due to another £21.5million government funding slash.
With a majority of 47 to one Green councillor, the proposal was of course passed at a special town hall meeting last night – but not before that Green councillor kicked up a stink.
For Cllr Caroline Russell, enough was enough. She proposed raising the tax to 9.99pc in order to offset social care cuts.
“There’s no doubt Islington Council has been hard hit by government cuts,” she said. “But this year’s budget is pushing the limit. It includes £3million cuts to social care. Cracks are beginning to show. You can’t cut the budget year on year without consequences.
“My ward, for example, is experiencing miserable cutbacks. Highbury Fields Bandstand [a playgroup] is losing a few thousand, but it’s tipping them off the cliff.”
She continued: “My amendment asks Islington residents if they would be prepared to pay a bit more to reverse all this. It would mean an extra £1 a week for a Band D property, but would raise £4m. There’s a mechanism available, and I believe Islington residents place a high value in proper provision in services. I have faith the Islington community would stand together.
“If you are willing to raise the council tax by 4.99pc, then surely you can at least ask to engage people in a conversation about 9.99pc? There’s a way of avoiding these government cuts.”
At a vote, it was shot down by all 37 present Labour councillors.
And it was ridiculed by Islington finance leader Cllr Andy Hull: “This just shows how out of touch the Islington Green Party is. Islington residents have already been among the hardest hit by government cuts. I think a 4.99pc rise is enough.
“In any case, to take the council tax above 4.99pc would mean holding a referendum, which would cost £400,000 to run. It wouldn’t get passed, and it would be a total waste of money.”
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