March 8 2014 Latest news:
By Lauren Rogers
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Great Yarmouth’s Conservative councillors have pledged to cut council tax, freeze car parking charges and look again at shared management if they are in power.
The borough council’s revenue budget for 2014/15 was approved at full council this week, but not before the Tory opposition laid out a raft of proposed amendments, including slashing council tax by 2pc.
Their “alternative vision”, which will shape their manifesto ahead of the May elections, would, they claim, generate more income in the long run. Key proposals include -
nIntroducing two hours free parking in town centre car parks;
nFreeze car parking charges on the seafront;
nRemove charges at Caister car park;
nGive £500 of each councillor’s £2,000 ward budget to the Environmental; Rangers, paying for a monthly blitz on borough streets.
The £500,000 cost incurred could be taken from the borough council’s £5.5m reserves, argued the Conservatives adding that they would be able to secure an extra £170,000 funding from the central government’s Efficient Support Grant by looking again at shared management.
Speaking at the budget debate on Tuesday night, senior Conservative councillor Barry Coleman accused the Labour leadership of a “complete lack of original thought”.
“Do we sit back, moan and increase taxation and charges or do we break free, think positively and give everyone in the borough a helping hand to create a prosperous community?” he said.
“I think most will go for the latter.”
While the Tories claimed their way would “kick start” a high street renaissance and stimulate economic growth, Labour leader of the Great Yarmouth Borough Council Trevor Wainwright denounced it as “smoke and mirrors”.
“Councillor Coleman is throwing percentages about like they are confetti,” said Mr Wainwright.
“What we’ve presented is a bold budget which builds on the progress made in 2013/14 which saw major restructuring and a slimmed down borough council and a renegotiation of the contract with GY Borough Services - a contract that your administration hadn’t looked at in any detail for 12 years.
“At the same time we’re building council houses in the borough for the first time in 20 years and we’re investing in the Marina Centre after you allowed it to deteriorate.”
Arguing GYBC was facing a tough financial future mainly because of the “unfair” central Government funding - the council is receiving £7,023,364 in 2014/15, down 13.8pc on the £8,146,803 in 2013-14 not including the efficiency support grant, the Labour leaders repeated their warning harder times were ahead.
Councillor Brian Walker, deputy leader and cabinet member of resources, said: “Things certainly aren’t going to get easier. In fact, it’s going to get much worse.
“We’ve got to recognise that the people of Great Yarmouth are suffering tremendously under this government.”
Mr Walker added that work on the 2015/16 budget has now started, adding a stark warning: “I can assure the council that nothing is sacred. We will be looking at every single service from scratch.”
The cash-strapped has already revealed it is preparing to ask residents about their priorities ahead of radical cost-cutting exercises which would see non-statutory services like grounds maintenance or toilets at risk.