READER LETTER: 'A small council tax rise is justified'
PUBLISHED: 09:05 27 March 2019
I write in response to the letter from Duncan Baker (North Norfolk News, March 14). On this occasion I feel compelled to respond on behalf of the majority of councillors at North Norfolk District Council who saw this year's budget for what it was - a budget to address concerns residents had brought to our attention.
No-one takes any pleasure in raising council tax for anyone, hardworking families, pensioners or rate payers, to suggest otherwise is simply untrue.
But, with a forecast deficit of over £2m a year going forwards we simply cannot stick our heads in the sand, or try to gain political favour by taking the easy way out.
It was disappointing that despite being invited to enter cross-party budget discussions on several occasions the Conservative group chose not to engage.
This would have been the time for them to raise concerns they had about the budget if they truly wanted them resolved. To say they fought hard to avoid a tax increase is I would suggest based on the evidence a little misleading.
The Liberal Democrat budget for North Norfolk District Council means an increase of less than 10p a week for a Band D property, compared to the £1.22 a week increase imposed by the Conservative controlled county council and police service.
Until last year NNDC’s tax freezes were underwritten financially by central government.
Now, the Conservative government has made it clear that it requires local government to support itself, which is why all but one district council across Norfolk have taken this decision this year.
Liberal Democrats intend to ensure that NNDC becomes far more financially astute, so we can build a stronger future for us all.
It is interesting that our colleagues are claiming success for so many different projects, yet as residents can judge for themselves most are still in the planning stage and have yet to be delivered.
Setting up a new property company will help us not only house local residents but start to address our funding gap, it’s a shame this idea was previously dismissed.
Four months ago Liberal Democrats inherited a council with an annual future year’s deficit of approximately two million pounds, and no strategic plan in place to address it.
The Tories, while in control of the council and after years of storing up funds began spending on every project that came their way in a desperate attempt to disguise the real situation.
This included the North Walsham arts grant for which no coherent plan even existed.
Liberal Democrats take a responsible approach to budgeting, taking account of potential deficits and seeking to limit the damage caused by decisions of the Tory government and county council.
The small rise in council tax helps tackle the potential deficit NNDC is facing in future years.
Councillor for the Runtons ward and leader of North Norfolk District Council
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