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POWYS councillors will meet again next week to continue debating the 2022/23 budget after failing to reach an agreement on Thursday (February 24).

The vote to suspend the meeting took place after a vote to freeze the Council Tax for next year was overturned.

Earlier an amended budget proposal put forward by the Labour council group, to use money from a reserve budget to fund a Council Tax freeze in next year’s budget was put forward for debate.

Labour’s Cllr David Thomas pointed out that £3.4 million that is in a budget management reserve could be used.

He explained that and expected transfer of £1.8 million to plug a gap in the Children’s Social Services finances from this reserve won’t be needed now.

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Freezing the Council Tax would help residents cope with the rising cost of living and energy bills.

This was supported by 34 votes to 31 and took over from the previous amendment put forward by Conservative finance portfolio holder Cllr Aled Davies and backed by Plaid Cymru group leader Cllr Elwyn Vaughan, to drop Council Tax from 3.9 per cent to 3.4 per cent.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies said:

“I am really at a loss at the moment.

“The budget with a zero per cent council tax contains an unacceptable level of risk and it drives a hole through the budget that we were planning to deliver.2

He asked for a five-minute recess to discuss the “validity of the budget” with finance officers now it would have a Council Tax freeze included.

Council chairman, Cllr Gwynfor Thomas agreed to a resume the meeting at 3.25pm, but the recess took much longer.

The meeting resumed at 4pm and Cllr Aled Daves urged councillors to vote against the budget with a zero per cent Council Tax rise.

Cllr Davies said:

“We must set a safe budget and does not contain too much risk, because of delivery of our services is extremely important.

“We’ve had a significant debate; I will be asking the council to vote against the recommendation.”

Cllrs Peter Roberts pointed out that some councillors had left the meeting because of the length of break.

Cllr Thomas said:

“Members have been dipping in and out all day we can only vote with who we have present at the time, that’s the nature of where we are.

“I would have thought that members would have realised the importance of setting the budget.”

The vote came back with 31 councillors for freezing the council tax and 33 against, which brought up the question of what to do next?

Cllr Davies said:

“I suggest that we resume the meeting next week and in the meantime I will certainly reach across to the groups across the council so that we can come together and deliver a budget that is safe.”

Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt said:

“What a mess, it might have been an idea to do the reaching out before we came to the meeting.

“However, we are where we are, and I see no other option but to suspend the meeting.


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