As the cost-of-living crisis continues to affect families across the city, Coventry Conservatives have slammed a proposal to increase council tax. At Tuesday’s budget meeting, they will propose a much lower increase in council tax and provide additional funding to improve highways, implement road safety schemes and tackle graffiti.
The ‘alternative budget’ will be moved by Conservatives Finance Spokesman, Cllr Tim Sawdon, and seconded by Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Gary Ridley. The plan is fully costed and has been checked with officers in the Council’s treasury department who have confirmed it is deliverable.
When they considered an alternative approach, Cllrs Sawdon and Ridley were shocked to discover the Council had hoarded a staggering £12m of emergency covid funding from the Government. So, they will use £1.6m of this surplus to reduce the overall council tax requirement. This will result in a 1% lower council tax rise than that planned by Labour.
Conservatives also believe that extra spending on services is possible. They are proposing to spend an additional £275,000 per year on improving highways, tackling potholes and a further £275,000 implementing more road safety measures. They will also provide additional an additional £42,000 to tackle graffiti which is becoming a bigger problem in the city. To fund these measures, they will squeeze bureaucracy, cut the wage bill for Councillors, and tackle vested interests.
They will reduce funding to the Council’s public relations team – often used to broadcast political messages from Labour councillors. They will remove the secretive ‘policy contingency fund’ controlled by the Leader of the Council and reduce the support given to Trades Unions. This will bring support to unions into line with the level suggested by Government. Finally, they will abolish do-nothing Deputy Cabinet Members and reduce the size of the Cabinet to eight instead of ten.
Commenting on the proposals Cllr Tim Sawdon said: “With a cost-of-living crisis, the Council shouldn’t be charging one penny more than is needed. So, it’s frankly immoral to increase council tax whilst hoarding money from Government which was meant to be spent. Our proposal is to use some of this funding to bring the council tax requirement in at 1% lower than Labour’s. Our plan would also direct funding to frontline services by tackling vested interests and bureaucracy. Funding which will improve the quality, and safety of our highways, and tackle the menace which is graffiti. Our alternative exposes this failing Labour administration and shows that another way is possible.”
Cllr Gary Ridley added: “Labour’s standard line is that the Government is underfunding the local authority, but in truth they’ve been profligate. We’ve had bailouts for the City of Culture Trust, Tom White Waste, Coombe Abbey Hotel and nearly Wasps RFC. But I think people will be especially angry to discover they’re being asked for more tax when the Council hasn’t even spent the money it’s received from Government. For once, it’s time for Labour to put the taxpayer first. I’d urge them to do the right thing, use this money for its intended purpose and give people a break.”