The Green administration in Brighton and Hove has announced that Council Tax in the City is to go up be about 3.5% in each of the next three years, or 10% over 3 years.
However, the People’s Geoff, (Tory Leader Geoffrey Theobald) said in a communication with this Humble Blogger that he thinks “residents will be concerned”. He said: “I find it quite irresponsible that the Greens are planning these large increases, for the next 3 years, at such an early stage in their administration”. He said that the Tories’ “first priority was always to look for savings in back office functions before ever turning to the council tax payer.”
Inevitably, as I warned last week, the Tories have raised the issue of the new head of media relations, as well as the decision to taking on the management of the Council’s downland estate.
I think Geoffrey Theobald is being a bit disingenuous. After all, the council tax freeze last year, indeed much of the budget set in the dying days of the Tory administration, was a decisive …. deferring of difficult decisions until this coming year’s budget.
A 3.5% increase is significantly less that the rate of inflation which is running at the moment at about 5%.
Council Leader Bill Randall has said his Green administration’s aim is to “protect front line services which support the city’s most vulnerable people.”
When it comes to setting a budget, it is clear that 23 Greens will vote one way, 18 Conservatives another, leaving the ultimate decision in the hands of Labour councillors. The 13 Labour councillors are in a tricky position. After they have put forward their token amendments which will have no chance of being agreed, they will either have to support the Conservatives’ opposition (and lose further credibility in the City) or support the Green’s budget (which will frustrate them and Labour activists who continue to see the Greens locally as their main opponents).
Of course Labour could abstain, thereby allowing the Green budget to be set. But an abstention would beg the question: what is the point of Labour councillors in Brighton?