Labour-run Cheshire West and Chester Council is being urged by the borough’s Tories to think of the public ahead of this evening’s (Thursday March 1) budget council meeting.
Conservatives point out residents face a further council tax rise with a new 5% hike in prospect, the highest increase since the authority, originally Tory controlled, was created in 2009.
They say they have scrutinised the proposals in detail and are calling on finance chief Cllr David Armstrong (Lab) to hold the tax at current levels and to think about what an increase means for hard working families and residents on low and fixed incomes.
Cllr Neil Sullivan, the Tory’s finance spokesman, said: “We want the council to think hard and look at itself before turning to the taxpayers.
“It seems unfair to us that taxes are to rise for the many when this is going to pay for generous pension packages, new computer systems, parking machines and many other things that people didn’t vote for.
“We might not have been in this position at all if projects like Barons Quay in Northwich and the move out of the Chester headquarters had been delivered to plan.”
These are examples of new income streams and opportunities to save money which could have been recycled to keep council tax as at present, he argues.
Shadow housing shief Helen Weltman (Con) added: “This will be the third tax hike in as many years.
“People expect very little these days and get even less. Most people that come to me with complaints just want to see the streets clean and the potholes filled.”
Conservative group Leader Cllr Lynn Riley believes Labour is defending its plans based on neighbouring councils doing the same.
“But it’s only three years ago that Cheshire West was the most achieving council in England so we have never been part of the 95%,” she said.
“Cheshire West used to be a council that found innovative ways to deliver public services without raising council taxes and still managed to build a theatre, new schools, museums, libraries and leisure centres as well as fix the roads, pavements and bridges.
“I would urge Labour colleagues to step up and be the 5% and not tax at 5%.”