Last night the Conservative led Rushcliffe Borough Council met to set their budget and further increase council tax. Labour Group Leader, Cllr Ben Gray spoke out saying “Broadly we were in favour of the investments made in the borough, but saddened that yet again the brunt of the cost of these spendings will be covered by increases in council tax. A tax which is most keenly felt by the poorest members of our borough.” Explaining “The upper rate of council tax is capped at three times the lowest rate, despite the properties in question differing by more than one hundred times in value. A resident of a £10 million pound property pays just three times more than a pensioner in a retirement flat. While we understand the need to pay for the services we provide as a borough, voting for such an increase on this tax was too hard a pill to swallow.” The Conservatives pushed through the budget with the maximum allowed council tax increase.
There followed a motion which called for the whole council to welcome Brexit and call for more investment. Cllr Gowland made the point that “People are still upset about the result (of the referendum) and this statement just seeks to rub salt in the wound”. The Labour Group, with support from other opposition parties, attempted to remove divisive parts and call for a conciliatory statement to be made. They agreed that the East Midlands has been ignored for too long in terms of investment from central government. Their amendment also called for a wish for the prosperity of residents to be included in the statement, but this was also refused and the statement stands that the council “Create a healthy and prosperous environment for businesses” with no mention of residents. Cllr Bal Bansal said “I believe that we are here first to represent our residents and we are appalled by the omission.”
The East Midlands has lagged behind the rest of the country for so long in terms of investment, and councillors stated that they were shocked that it only now that the Conservative group are calling for this investment – Cllr Mike Gaunt asked the question “where have the calls from this borough been for the last ten years?”
The greatest shock of the night came when at just before nine forty five the Conservative leader of the council, Cllr Simon Robinson, called to end the session early and not consider motions or questions which had tabled for discussion These included a motion looking to hold non compliant developers to account, looking into improving cycling provisions to speed travel into the city while Clifton Bridge is out of action, and questions on the council’s response to the Corona Virus.
Council is stated to last until ten pm and can be extended to ten thirty by permission of the council. Cllr Gray said “As paid council members we believe it is our duty and responsibility to consider the items on the agenda – and all members except the majority party (The Conservatives) voted to continue the session. Motions and questions left over will now not be heard until July at the earliest. Are the Conservatives scared to answer difficult questions on our current situation?”.