Barking and Dagenham council freeze tax to help families
AN HISTORIC budget was unveiled last week including a council tax freeze and massive capital investment in the borough of �435million. This was supported by the Greater London Authority which will also freeze its taxation levels this financial year. It is
AN HISTORIC budget was unveiled last week including a council tax freeze and massive capital investment in the borough of �435million.
This was supported by the Greater London Authority which will also freeze its taxation levels this financial year.
It is hoped this will provide relief to families during a period of economic downturn and scarce employment.
While building new schools, improving roads and creating more services for the community will help create jobs within Barking and Dagenham.
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Executive member for finance, Graham Bramley, said: "Never have we frozen council tax before.
"This is because of the difficult times people face. We as a council recognise that and this is our small contribution to that fact.
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"I make no apologies for the fact that this is an expansionary budget.
"We will be investing in schools, roads, leisure centres and housing.
"The �435million capital budget will sustain jobs within this economic downturn."
There was lively debate in the council chamber when leader of the opposition, Bob Bailey, presented his budget to the assembly.
Included were plans to build a specialist boarding school in the borough and do away with foster parents, saving �10million a year.
They also planned to provide housing for families currently in temporary accommodation by placing them in caravans on a brown field site.
Firing council middle managers, cutting funding to organisations like the Racial Equality Council, getting rid of agencies and not contracting out work also featured in the opposition budget.
Building a school for children with special needs on Barking Riverside was also suggested to save money on taxis and buses .
Councillor Bailey said: "Our budget would put a stop to wasting money and concentrate on services.
"We would do away with agencies and contracting out work. Giving British jobs to British people.
"This council has frozen council tax but they have increased rent by seven per cent and heating charges are up by 10 per cent. We would cut council tax by three per cent."
Councillor Brambley pointed out that the opposition budget had no capital programme and that rents and heating charges do not have any effect on council tax levels.
Deputy leader of the council, Liam Smith, said: "You want to put all homeless people who are in private housing into some sort of ghetto.
"People whose marriages have split up or who have had their homes repossessed and your answer is to shove them in a caravan."
The opposition's proposal to cut �200,000 from the events budget was also unpopular; Councillor Bramley said it would spell the end of the Dagenham town show.
The opposition budget was rejected at the assembly meeting last week and the majority party budget was approved.