Labour leader, Cllr Carl Quartermain’s response to the decision of the Independent Group, Liberal Democrats and Conservative Councillors to vote for a council tax increase of up to 4%.
A rise that will see some residents paying an extra £75 a year.
“We couldn’t support the 4% council tax budget because it lacks detail and transparency. It is a one year, stop gap based on uncertainty and assumptions and championed, surprisingly, by this new Independent/LibDem coalition. An administration whose Independent leaders, year on year voted against all council tax increases in the name of their ward residents.
“Throughout ten years of austerity and the most savage funding cuts ever known, the Independent Group Leaders continually played politics by voting against our budget proposals. We know they played politics because now in control, this year’s 4% council tax rise is wholly theirs.
“Every year we were told from the Independent Leaders, how the people of Loftus couldn’t take anymore increases. How those on the council tax threshold could no longer cope. How the Adult Social Care Precept was an appalling imposition. And how Labour should stop blaming the Tories.
“The hypocrisy from this change in attitude is absolutely appalling and I imagine the people of Loftus and East Cleveland will feel this when they receive their council tax bill from the new Independent led administration.
“The Independent/LibDem budget lacks information of how funding will be proportioned across vital services but also lacks transparency around growth and spending. £10m for the Coatham Masterplan has been stripped away and hidden. In the same breath funding of £4.154m for 2021/22 and £3.320m for 2022/23 have appeared in another column. Very specific amounts but what are they funding? We don’t know.
“The Indigenous growth fund too is being utilised. £2m in 2021/22 and £4m in 2022/23. What is it for? We don’t know.
“The Leader of the Council tells us there will be no more job cuts. Yet the report refers to streamlining. So which is it, job cuts or not? We don’t know.
“And key plans have been omitted such as our commitment to Climate Change and the environment. How does the increase support our challenges? We don’t know.
“What we do know is this borough is woefully underfunded and since austerity supposedly ended, nothing has changed. It is unsurprising that life expectancy in the North East is over a decade less than the more affluent areas and the lowest level in 100 years. It is unsurprising that crime is through the roof and often goes hand in hand with substance and domestic abuse, mental health issues, unemployment, isolation and suicide. Quite simply we are failing due to the lack of government financial support. Support they could have provided.
“The Tories stripped our area of £100m in funding, forced us to cut and remove services at the loss of over 1500 council jobs. Had our budgets failed, all our residents would have been exposed to the mercy of the government’s commissioner to set out our finances.
“I have proposed this council write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer year on year, signed by all councillors, highlighting the effects of the neglect on our borough, the funding needed to support the safety and welfare of our residents and to display our collective disgust at a Conservative government that simply doesn’t care about Redcar and Cleveland.”