Last week at Crawley Borough Council was the Full Council meeting where the first annual budget of the Labour Administration was presented.
The Conservative Group supported Labour’s budget as it was based on sound Conservative principles of living within our means by having a balanced budget, as well as having a fifth successive Council Tax freeze.
Crawley residents need to know that it was only possible for Labour to deliver this balanced budget and Council Tax freeze thanks to the Conservatives.
Firstly, the previous Conservative Administration took the difficult decisions and made £8 million of efficiency savings, most of which were opposed by Labour. This put the Council in a financially good place so that services are sustainable for the long term with the need for future savings lessened.
Secondly, the economy is doing well and the Council is financially benefitting from increased business rates and income generation, but don’t forget that Labour resisted the Conservatives’ measures at every turn to get our economy back on track after they wrecked it. Finally, we had a fifth successive grant from the Conservative-led government that paid for a fifth successive Council Tax freeze.
I was concerned that Labour hadn’t planned to balance their Crawley budget this year and there was no real commitment to balance it next year or freeze Council Tax. Therefore we tabled an amendment which was “to work towards setting a balanced budget and towards a further Council Tax freeze in 2016/17”.
This was a very reasonable amendment that gave a strong steer but allowed Labour a get-out for unforeseen financial problems, which could happen if Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister and starts to wreck the economy again. It was disappointing that Labour Councillors, including their Parliamentary Candidate for Crawley, voted against our amendment and couldn’t even commit to “working towards” balancing the Council’s budget and delivering another Council Tax freeze next year.
It appears Labour have played financially safe this side of the general election, but be warned, their voting down of our amendment shows that locally as well as nationally, they no intention of doing so afterwards.