Council Leaders unite in opposition to Government red-tape burden

Council Leaders from around the country, including in Bath and North East Somerset, have joined together in criticism of Government claims over Council Tax and the excessive burden of red-tape put on local authorities.

B&NES Council Leader Francine Haeberling co-signed a letter with other Conservative Council Leaders from around Britain, voicing their opposition to Government claims of credit for historically low Council Tax rises.

The Government has come under fire for claiming credit for low Council Tax rises achieved by Conservative-run authorities like B&NES, despite the increased financial burden being placed on Councils by the Government.

In B&NES, the Government has under-funded the cost of over-60’s bus passes every year by £1.3 million, as well as underfunding free swimming, and withdrawing its support for free internet in Libraries. The Government also withholds £2.5 million from the authority every year in order to prop-up spending in other areas of the country.

Despite these pressures, the 2.5% Council Tax rise proposed by the Conservatives in B&NES this year is the lowest the authority has ever delivered, and down from a whopping 9.5% increase previously imposed by the Council.

Cllr Francine Haeberling (Cons, Saltford) said:

“The Government has imposed massive additional financial burdens on local Councils, and yet is still trying to claim some credit for the low Council Tax rises we have strived to achieve. Here in B&NES, the financial support the Council receives from the Government has actually dropped significantly since 1997 in percentage terms.

“Various Council Leaders have therefore joined together to voice our opposition to these unfounded claims by Government. Here in B&NES, but I know also in neighbouring authorities, Conservatives have made reducing the Council Tax burden and providing value for money quality services top priority. Voters will see through baseless claims by the Labour Government and will not reward them for claiming false credit for local achievements.”