Oldham council tax rise passed as Tories vow to usurp Lib Dems

Friday, February 28th, 2020 5:29pm

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter @CharGreenLDR

Council tax will rise for Oldham residents as the Tories vowed to usurp the Liberal Democrats as the biggest opposition party come May.

From April, residents in the borough will pay at least £32 more in tax after a majority of councillors backed an increase of 2.99pc at the annual budget meeting.

However, it is a 1pc decrease on previous years, after bosses said they were aware the financial pressure facing households was ‘too high’.

Of the bill, 2pc will go specifically to pay for adult social care.

An amendment containing alternative budget proposals by the Liberal Democrats was defeated after being opposed by both Labour and Tory councillors, who were criticised for not putting forward their own plan.

But during the debate, Tory stalwart Coun John Hudson vowed that they were fighting ‘tooth and nail’ to make sure things were ‘put right’ in the borough.

“I get cross when I hear people condemn us,” he said.

“But what I would remind the Liberals is, after the next election it could be the Conservatives who are the official opposition and you’ll wait and see then.

“I really get cross when people play politics on a night like this when it’s not equal, we can’t answer back but people out there know this and they’ll answer back in May, big time.”

All of the various opposition councillors, with the exception of independent Coun Aftab Hussain who voted in favour, abstained from the budget vote on Wednesday night.


Councillors at the full council meeting earlier this week. 

Council leader Sean Fielding told members he was ‘sad’ to have to present the budget, which he said was the consequence of a decade of austerity.

“The scale of cuts here in Oldham is not comparable to every other council,” he said.

“Oldham has been specifically targeted for deeper cuts than many other places by this government. 

“Out of 343 councils in England, only five have had more money taken from them as a proportion of their budget than us.

“But as a council we have to weigh up the tension between funding services properly and keeping money in people’s pockets.

“We’ve made the decision not to increase council tax as much as we could, because it’s not fair to residents. 

“But there is a rise, because without it we cannot take Oldham where it needs to be and deliver the services that its residents need.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Coun Chris Gloster said that the town hall is tipping even further over the ‘precipice’.

“Oldham council is steadily heading towards a financial crisis of such proportions that unless we refrain from propping the budget up with reserves, we will be in the position that we will only be able to deliver statutory services,” he said.

“Central government just does not seem to understand the impact of its decisions on Oldham borough, our people and our townships.”

He told the chamber they were supporting Labour’s budget proposals ‘with a heavy heart’.

The council tax increase will mean that for Band D properties, the annual tax bill will be at least £48 more than last year.

And this will equate to £32 more a year for the majority of Oldham’s residents who live in Band A properties.

But the overall bill will rise further for residents with the increase of the Greater Manchester mayoral precept to cover the cost of recruiting hundreds more police and fire officers.

It means an extra £16 for Band A properties and £20 more for Band D in the next financial year.

A number of fees and charges, including the cost of school meals, cremations and new graves are also to rise.

And the town hall is intending to make £3m of savings and use £11 million of reserves to balance the books.

This will include cutting costs in back-office services and maintaining fewer buildings.

This is on top of a total of £14.4m in cuts to services and the loss of 24 full-time staff roles the authority pledged in 2019 to make over two years.

More from Oldham Reporter

Weather

  • Mon

    12°C

  • Tue

    14°C

  • Wed

    17°C

  • Thu

    13°C

  • Fri

    9°C