15 July 2012

Are local Lib Dems planning to slap £50 on your Council Tax bill?

Times are tough at the moment and lots of people are feeling the pinch. With this in mind, Labour Councillors in Southwark are focusing on making changes which will help people out. To give just two examples, we've introduced free, healthy school meals in all primary schools and just announced plans to build 1000 new homes to help deal with the desperate shortage of housing in the borough.

We've managed to do this whilst the government is cutting 1/3 of of the funding your council gets from the government (whilst wealthier council's like Richmond have been protected). Importantly, Labour has also prioritised keeping Council Tax down. We know that when people are struggling, the last thing they need is a hike in their council tax.

But for some unknown reason, during these tough times, local Liberal Democrat councillors have decided to prioritise introducing more council meetings, paid for by an increase in Council Tax. They are campaigning for new Parish Councils to be introduced - and they are being very hush, hush about the fact that this unnecessary layer of additional bureaucracy comes with a price tag.

A parish council has just been introduced in Westminster which will put Council Tax up (for the residents of that area) by £50 a year. Politics is about priorities. I find it staggering that Lib Dems are prioritising a new tax on hard pushed residents of the borough to pay for more council meetings.

Lib Dems are currently talking about consulting on the proposals in the northern parts of Southwark, but they have not ruled it out for Nunhead, Peckham Rye and East Dulwich. Worryingly, in Westminster they managed to sneak through the new parish council tax even though only 20% of people turned out to vote in a local referendum.Even if you leave aside the council tax issue, the proposals are trying to solve a problem which doesn't exist.

It is our job as local councillors to take your views to the council in a variety of ways. If councillors are hard working, then there is no need for extra meetings. The Lib Dems have an ongoing problem in this respect.

The only Lib Dem councillors in our area are in East Dulwich ward. So I'd like to lay down a challenge to them. Will they rule out this silly plan to increase council tax by £50 a year if you win back control of the council in 2014?

I'll update the Peckham Rye Labour Blog with their answer as soon as I get it.