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Monday, 26 October 2020

Council tax to rise by maximum 3.99% in Nottinghamshire

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Councillors have agreed to raise council tax by the maximum 3.99 per cent while putting more into reserves.

It means people in Band A properties will pay an extra £39.26 a year to the council, while those in Band D homes will pay an additional £58.89.

After a nine-hour meeting yesterday, (Thursday, February 27) Conservative councillors at Nottinghamshire County Council voted through the budget with the support of their coalition partners, the Mansfield Independents.

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Labour had proposed changes to the budget, which would have meant the cuts to the benefits of people with disabilities would have been reversed, and the cuts to speech and language therapy and perinatal mental health support would also have been scrapped.

They called the benefit cuts ‘callous’, and said the children’s centre cuts were economically and socially short-sighted.

This would have been primarily funded by putting less into reserves.

However, the Conservatives argued that this would have led to future problems and could result in financial difficulty.

The Ashfield Independent councillors also proposed an amendment which would have meant the three Children’s centres in Huthwaite, Mansfield and currently due to close would have been kept open.

They argued the £100,000 cost of this was minimal in comparison with the £28 million the council intends to spend on upgrading its own offices.

However, this too was rejected by the Conservatives, who said the centres were underused and did not represent good value for money.

Councillor Alan Rhodes is the leader of the Labour group, and represents Worksop North.

He said: “We deserve better than to be treated like this. Our constituents deserve better than to be treated like this. They are being forced to pay more by the Conservatives only to receive less.

“Buildings and infrastructure are important, as I said earlier. But no council should ever put property before people and this is undoubtedly what this administration is doing.

“You may wish to leave a legacy of fine office building and an archive centre come next year’s county council elections and you have recently awarded yourselves £28million of public money with which to achieve that, which I note has not been included in this budget, but behind you will be a trail of closed Children’s Centres, withdrawn services for the vulnerable, cuts, closures and redundancies.

“People’s lives are more important than expensive capital projects, more important than your legacy.

“Please think again and reinstate these vital services.”

Councillor Richard Jackson represents Toton, Chilwell and Attenborough for the Conservatives, and is the chairman of the committee which put the budget together.

He said the financial situation was challenging after several years of government funding cuts, which he said had ‘gone on a little bit too long’.

However he said he was optimistic the matter was now being taken seriously by the Government.

He said: “County councils can’t continue to deliver more and more for less and less.

“We can’t keep the wolves from the door indefinitely with increased demand on our key services and unmet funding needs that must be addressed.

“But the Government has a compelling motivation to change that situation.

“We are pushing at an open door and the message is getting through.”

He said the budget meant the council would continue to invest more in building new schools, major infrastructure projects like the Gedling Access Road, and fixing more potholes.

Councillor Jason Zadrozny is the leader of the Ashfield Independents, and represents the Ashfields ward.

He said: “We have 70-year-old men making decisions about seven years olds.

“We have millionaires making decisions about single mothers.

“The Conservatives are utterly out of touch. The Conservatives hiked council tax by the maximum amount.

“In a budget of £512 million – the £100,000 we requested (to keep the three children’s centres open) is just 0.01 per cent of their budget.

“They refused to even consider our plans to put £100,000 of funding to protect just three centres.

“This is another example of the callous, uncaring, disgraceful attitude of the Conservatives. We will not forget how they have let Ashfield, Mansfield and Beeston down.”

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