Friday, February 15, 2013
Suffolk County Council’s element of council tax bills is to be frozen for the next four years if the Tories retain power.
That was the pledge made to the county council yesterday as it agreed to the third council tax freeze running.
Leader Mark Bee made the pledge during the council’s budget debate – but it was immediately questioned by opposition councillors who dismissed it as an attempt to gain more votes in May’s elections.
And yesterday evening the administration wrote to local government secretary Eric Pickles to tell him of the pledge.
Mr Bee announced the proposed freeze during the budget debate at Endeavour House. He said: “I am proud to announce today that if we are re-elected in May we will freeze the council tax, not just for the first year but for all four years of the next council. And we will do this and protect front line services for the most vulnerable in our society. That is our pledge. That is our commitment.”
This provoked cheers from his own side – but did not impress the opposition.
Liberal Democrat opposition leader David Wood said the move was clearly made to get the headlines in the run-up to the elections. He said: “There are significant cuts in adult and community services, yet again aiming the biggest reductions in areas where we provide for the vulnerable, which inevitably makes us question the effect on frontline services.”
Earlier the Conservative administration had defeated a Liberal Democrat amendment to the budget which would have led to the council spending more on education by taking £1.7m from reserves.
The budget was approved by the significant majority of 39 votes to 11 – but a substantial number of councillors had left the chamber well before the end of the three-hour debate.