PLAID Cymru’s Powys County Council group have defended their decision to prop up the Independent/Conservative budget proposals.
At last week’s chaotic full council meeting Plaid Cymru group leader Cllr Elwyn Vaughan was willing to back a 0.5 per cent drop in the Council Tax as well as shelving cuts to the county’s theatre grant.
Cllr Vaughan seconded a budget amendment made by Conservative finance portfolio Cllr Aled Davies, to drop the Council Tax increase drop from 3.9 per cent to 3.4 per cent.
But. this was superseded by a Labour group amendment of a freeze in Council Tax, which was backed by other opposition groups.
A vote for the Council Tax freeze won, which saw it take over as the official budget proposal.
But a second vote on the proposal was lost which led to the meeting’s suspension.
This pause in proceedings is supposed to allow councillors to try and find a consensus and allow a budget to be set within the legal time frame. The budget meeting will now reconvene at 12pm on Thursday, March 3.
Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt said:
“It is greatly disappointing to see Plaid Cymru team up with the Conservative to try and impose yet another year of high Council Tax rises on Powys residents.
“Powys residents are going through one of the toughest cost-of-living crises in living memory, with energy price rises in Powys amongst the highest in the entire UK.
“We have already had over 27 per cent of Council Tax rises since 2017 inflicted by the Conservative and Independent coalition.
“Now Plaid Cymru wants to help them introduce yet more again.
“Both the Lib Dems and Labour have backed credible plans to stand up for the people of Powys and introduce a Council Tax freeze this year while families are struggling to make ends meet.”
Cllr Vaughan has defended his decision to back the budget by pointing out that the council’s s151 officer Jane Thomas advised against a Council Tax freeze.
Cllr Vaughan said:
“All we did is look at the information provided to all groups and made a positive suggestion utilising savings that could be made as a result of the extra capital funding, without increasing liabilities.
“We will always put the emphasis on constructive suggestions/ideas/ways forward as I cannot abide continual whinging by some who then offer no constructive ideas.
“We know there’s an election coming but let’s not have short term games at the expense of our residents.
“We want low Council Tax every year.
“Trying to promise all today whilst ignoring tomorrow is like giving a bucket full of sweets to someone without telling them you’re taking them to the dentist tomorrow to take their teeth out.”
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