EAST Staffordshire Borough Council has insisted its decision to cut council tax was taken with its residents in mind – following accusations that the move was politically motivated.
The Conservative-controlled council officially pushed through a one per cent reduction at the latest full council meeting at Burton town hall, the fourth year in succession that there has not been a rise.
Senior figures said the financial burden currently affecting authorities across the country would not be passed on to people in the borough.
But several Labour members claimed the plan was nothing more than a political move ahead of the upcoming county elections in May, also raising fears that the drop in funds coming in from council tax would put council services under further strain.
After claims that the council was taking a risk, Tory leader Richard Grosvenor remained undeterred – insisting the council would receive adequate funding through other means.
But Labour’s Bill Ganley said the moves would impact on what he said were already declining council services.
He said: “It’s a very, very political move setting council tax at one per cent. They could have set it at zero per cent.
“We have seen in excess of a 48 per cent drop in funding from the Government.
“I think when people hear that they will see it as a shocking figure and see that a cut in council tax when there is going to be less money than ever is a blatant political move just before the county elections.”
The Tory members in the chamber staunchly defended the council’s stance and Councillor Grosvenor hit back by insisting it was budgeting with residents in mind.
He said: “We are not charging people more for their services than they should pay. We’re not passing it on to residents and asking them to pay more.
“The services we offer have a high satisfaction rate, so I don’t think the correlation between reduction in force, which will be 10 next year as opposed to 20 in the last eight years, stacks up.”