Lib Dems in Newquay lose battle to curb inflated Town Council tax increases

Lib Dem Councillors were bitterly disappointed with the result of the Town Council budget debate - they fought hard to curb the excesses in the budget but there was an extraordinary alliance between the Tories and the Green and Labour Councillors and they were determined to have their 99.9 increase - and were not prepared to listen to any facts put to them.  While they battled to a small reduction, Lib Dem Councillors believe the Council Tax rise being imposed on local residents is still far too high.

Cllr Joanna Kenny, who lost amendments to reduce the budget by over £200,000 said “While we achieved £100,000 reduction in the budget, there is at least the same amount of inflated costing included on the core activities alone– as proved not only by the embarrassing underspend last year but also the results this year. It is extraordinary that Committees have insisted on increasing their budgets when they so seriously underspend their allocation now. The worry is that committees are now rushing to spend extravagantly on unbudgeted items so that they can claim their budgets are realistic. Does the town of Newquay really need to replace 60 of its toilet roll holders at over £67 each?”

Cllr Sandy Carter who lost an amendment to reduce the precept increase to 50% said “This is not responsible budgeting. The Committee Chairs and Deputies who make up the membership of the Finance & Policy Committee that is meant to review the budget were so anxious to protect their own bids that they failed to challenge properly the budget as a whole. When they abolished the independent scrutiny team in revenge for that team persuading Council to reduce their extravagant budget bids two years back, they promised they would budget responsibly. They have failed to do so. In the coming year, I will be campaigning for proper independent scrutiny of the budget to be reinstated.”

Cllr Darren Daniels said “I cannot see any benefit for the people of Treloggan, Mayfield or any of the other areas outside the centre of Newquay who will be required to pay these extra bills. This budget rise was presented as necessary to take on the new projects of the Library and Mount Wise building – but these projects costed in at less than half the rise in Precept. Apart from the inflated budgeting the rest, we finally discovered, was over a quarter of a Million pounds of unallocated funding that was included to increase Council Reserves, not only next year but every year coming. There was no justification provided for this amount in the budget report, indeed you had to use a magnifying glass to find the only mention of it in a poorly presented table. That torpedoed proper critical analysis of the budget until it was too late. Not that would have been easy to do thanks to the disgraceful behaviour, disrespect of the procedures and disrespect of others, displayed by some present”

Councillor Ghislaine Gwilliam said “I cannot support this budget rise, I find it very odd that when Council democratically rejected the budget as presented, the Tories were allowed to present it again. There was so much filibustering going on stopping some excellent amendments and shouting from the gallery that the whole experience was exhausting and confusing for all Councillors.”

Mayor David Sleeman commented “As chairman of the meeting I had to try and keep order and take the advice of the Clerk as to the correct way to proceed. Personally I was delighted to see so many residents in the public gallery but the constant shouting by Ex-Councillors who really should have known better made it all very difficult. And as chairman, it was frustrating not to be able to express my own view.  But I can do so now. One Government policy that I agree with is that Councils should not hold vast sums of Reserves while putting up the annual Council Tax bills for local people. But the Tory Councillors supported by their Labour and Green allies have forced this through (to the tune of a quarter of million pounds a year extra) in direct opposition to their own Tory Government’s policy.    I do not believe that this budget is in the best interests of the people of Newquay – or that given the chance, the residents of Newquay would ever have approved this amount of increase.”

For more information contact Cllr Joanna Kenny, Newquay Pentire on 01637 872913.

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