Conservative councillors vote for Wirral council tax rise despite campaign against proposals

The Conservative group voted unanimously with the other parties to support a maximum rise of 4.99%, an increase of at least £57 a year for people across Wirral.

Conservative councillors in Wirral have voted for a Council Tax rise despite campaigning against the proposal on the doorstep.

The vote came after the Conservatives had voted against a proposed budget supported by Labour, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats in a council meeting on February 27.

The budget put forward threw out previous proposals to close libraries and childrens’ services, as well as reducing park maintenance and street cleaning but on the basis the Council Tax rise would fund these services. However £28m of cuts, income generation proposals, and savings were still passed by the council.

However, on the specific vote to raise Council Tax, the Conservative group voted unanimously with the other parties to support a maximum rise of 4.99%, an increase of at least £57 a year for people across Wirral.

This was despite the Conservatives campaigning against the rise and after the meeting claiming that they had voted against it.

On January 18, Cllr Tom Anderson, leader of the Conservatives, said one of his “red lines” included keeping Council Tax low adding: “I don’t think anybody is happy with raising taxes, we’re going to have to look at that but it’s certainly something that is not favourable with me.”

A week before the budget meeting, a photo posted by Conservative councillors campaigning on the doorstep showed placards reading “We say no to a 4.99% Council Tax rise” and “4.99% council tax rise! What are we paying for?”

At the meeting, Cllr Anderson said: “While councillors across this chamber are going to inflict a 5% council tax rise on the people of Wirral, they do so in the full knowledge that the council’s own financial controls are woefully inadequate and the system designed to address these failings is 12 months late. Shame on them.”

However one hour and forty minutes later, all councillors including the Conservatives voted to approve a recommendation that raised Council Tax by 4.99% with 2% of that funding going towards adult social care.

This puts the overall bill for people in Band D households up to £2,158.06 a year, with £1798.48 of that going towards Wirral Council services.

After the meeting Conservative Councillor Kathy Hodgson seemed to indicate that she and her colleagues had voted against a rise in Council Tax.

She said: “I voted against the rise in council tax. I felt along with the rest of my Conservative colleagues that there was enough scope to find resources from elsewhere than putting council tax up.”

But after this, Cllr Anderson admitted they had actually backed the rise as part of the wider budget.

He said: “We do not believe that some of Labour’s proposals offered value for money at a time when so many people are struggling to make ends meet.

“However, having been outvoted by Labour on that, we did then vote to pass an overall budget, as we are legally required to.”

Related topics: