Tory fury over 2% council tax rise 'as residents struggle ' in pandemic
Friday 26th February 2021
MAIDSTONE Borough Council's budget has been passed but not without a significant rebellion in the opposition ranks.
The fiscal strategy, which every local authority must pass by law, went through by a single vote (23 to 22).
The budget, which sees a 2% rise in council tax for residents, was largely pushed through by the ruling Liberal Democrats and independents.
Three of the four Labour councillors abstained.
The Conservative group, many of whom are unhappy about hitting poorer families in the middle of a pandemic, chose to fight the budget proposal.
Independent councillors Eddie Powell, Tom Sams and Janetta Sams all sided with the Tories.
Had certain absentees been present, the budget could have been voted down.
Jonathan Purle (Bridge Ward) said: “Many of us voted against so as to oppose another council tax increase. These increases add up and many residents are struggling. It costs about £100 a year more to live in Maidstone under this Liberal Democrat council than it does to live in Ashford.”
Conservative opposition Leader, John Perry (Staplehurst) said the budget must be set to acheive "better planning policies" given the levels of housebuilding faced by the borough.
He added: "If this council is ever going to start managing poor planning applications better, it needs better local planning policies. Yet we’ve been left with a vague promise to ‘find the money’ to develop these critical aspects of the local plan instead of our proposal to fund it properly.”
Conservative-run Kent County Council has already passed a 5% increase in tax, which sparked a mini revolt in its own ranks. Cllrs Gary Cooke and Paul Cooper were suspended for not obeying party loyalties..
MBC, which has seen its revenues decimated by the pandemic, was forced to confront finding £2m in savings to make the budget balance. A proposal by MBC to shut the Hazlitt Theatre to save cash was reversed after a massive public outcry.
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