A two per cent rise but cuts to many services

Deputy leader Coun Janet Battye and leader Coun Tim Swift say the aim is to provide the best services possible within a tight budget framework

Deputy leader Coun Janet Battye and leader Coun Tim Swift say the aim is to provide the best services possible within a tight budget framework

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Councillors gave the green light to budget proposals which include £21 million worth of cuts to key services across Calderdale.

But Conservative members hit out at the plan by the Labour-Liberal coalition cabinet to increase council tax by two per cent, which they say is necessary to protect front line services.

Tory group leader Stephen Baines said: “We do feel there have been missed opportunities in this budget and one of the major ones is the council tax increase. We should have been the 220th council to declare we would not be increasing council tax.”

However, the Conservative shadow cabinet decided not to bring an alternative budget to the meeting saying that it would have been defeated anyway.

This was met with derision by Labour members with cabinet member for economy and environment Barry Collinssaying: “I can’t believe in the situation we are in a party has come without a budget; not even proposing any amendments.”

In addition to the council tax rise, which will see an average Band D property paying £1,444.33 a year - an increase of around £25 per year - there were a series of cuts to many council services. Adult health and social care will see a reduction of £850,000; children and young people’s services £925,000; communities £200,000 and the chief executive’s office will see reductions of £400,000 for 2013/2014.

Council leader Coun Tim Swift (Lab) said: “It is vital for everyone that we build a stronger local economy to provide a future for our young people. We will create a £2.5 million fund to stimulate local economic regeneration and employment opportunities. We are also promoting the Living Wage for low-paid workers, starting with our own staff. We will continue to do our very best to provide good services for local people within the budget we have, however this is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Calderdale Council’s deputy leader, Calder ward Lib Dem Coun Janet Battye, said: “These are difficult times for everyone and these decisions haven’t been taken lightly.”