OPPOSITION councillors in Cardiff would freeze council tax, help victims of the cladding scandal, and reopen a recycling centre, if they controlled the city’s budget.

The Labour-run Cardiff council has passed the budget for the next financial year, beginning in April, with a council tax rising 1.9% and millions of pounds invested in housing and schools.

Each March, opposition parties in Cardiff set out how they would set the council’s budget differently — and this year a different party could be ruling the council after the election in May.

The Tories would freeze council tax, Liberal Democrats would set it at 0.9%, and Propel would reopen a recycling centre in west Cardiff which closed eight years ago.

Conservative councillors would save £3m from the budget by reducing the council’s reserves and spending on agency staff and consultants, and also adding new measures to reduce sickness absence. They would use this extra money to freeze council tax.

Want To Advertise Here?

Contact Us Today

We will not send you spam. Our team will be in touch within 24 to 48 hours Mon-Fri (but often much quicker)
Thanks. We will be in touch.

Cllr Gavin Hill-John, finance spokesman for the Conservative group, said council tax rises under Labour had been “brutal” and above inflation in previous years.

He said:

“It’s disappointing the council still wants to raise council tax. I find it bizarre the council is determined to inflict more hardship on the residents of Cardiff by raising council tax. Surely now is the time we should be doing everything possible to minimise financial impacts on the hard-working — and long-suffering under this council — residents of Cardiff.

“The council tax rises over the past few years have been brutal and well above inflation in the past. We firmly believe this isn’t right, and it’s perfectly possible to freeze council tax this year, and this is the right thing to do. We’re proposing that council tax rise should be zero per cent.”

Liberal Democrat councillors would save £3.3m from the budget by also reducing reserves, and they would raise an extra £10,000 from charging increased fees to advertise on the side of roads. They would raise council tax by 0.9%, and also set up a fire safety support hub with advice for those affected by the cladding scandal.

Cllr Rhys Taylor, Liberal Democrat group leader, said:

“Despite this being a national scandal, thousands of people living here in Cardiff are desperate for support and a helping hand. Our hub proposal would give in-person and online support to wade through legal complexities, funding available, help to seek legal advice, and provide mental health support.”

Propel councillors would save £1.25m from the budget by reducing reserves, and instead spend this money on increasing youth provision across the city. They would also scrap plans to create a public transport interchange at Waungron Road, and reopen the former recycling centre which closed there in 2014. Council tax would increase 1.9%.

Cllr Neil McEvoy, Propel leader, said:

“The closure of the recycling centre was probably one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of Cardiff council. We see fly-tipping, and damage to the environment with the extra miles having to go to Bessemer Road. The most popular recycling centre in the city was at Waungron Road. It’s appalling that it’s still closed.”

The council currently has about £14.3m in general reserves, with much more earmarked for specific services, and £10m for any Covid-related spending next year. These reserves are needed, according to council bosses, to protect against any unforeseen emergencies or crises.

Cllr Chris Weaver, cabinet member for finance, warned the council is facing a funding gap of £69m over the next four years, meaning the council’s spending is forecast to rise much faster than its income. He added it was uncertain what future challenges the city could face.

He said:

“A budget is the foundation of everything the council does — it funds the literal foundations of our new school buildings and our new housing, and it funds the figurative foundations of our young people and our city’s future by investing in education, youth services and tackling climate change.

“To have the confidence to bring forward an ambitious and transformative budget like ours, you must have strong foundations. The fundamental approach must be prudence for a purpose. Our proposal reduces the contingency budget by £1m but doesn’t remove it.

“With lower settlements to come in the years ahead, with significant uncertainty in the challenges we face, this is the prudent approach. We also plan to spend around £12m of earmarked reserves this year — not as a budget saving but for the purposes they were set aside.

“Throughout this administration we have taken the tough decisions needed to be able to then invest in the priorities for Cardiff, to make sure we are well placed to meet the needs of the city and its people for the years ahead. This budget continues that work. We hope this year to truly emerge from the pandemic, and this budget gets us ready for that.”

You are in breach of copyright
error: Content is protected !!
%d bloggers like this: