- LABOUR OPPOSE CONSERVATIVE BUDGET THAT ”MAKES THE WRONG CHOICES AND HAS THE WRONG PRIORITIES”
AVERAGE DARTFORD RESIDENT £80 WORSE OFF FOLLOWING TORY TAX INCREASES
NO ADDITIONAL MONEY FOR THE FAILING WASTE COLLECTION SERVICE
CCTV BUDGET CUT WHILE POLICE NUMBERS FALL AND ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR RISING.
LABOUR FORCE TORY U-TURN ON BROKEN PROMISE TO PAY STAFF A LIVING WAGE
Labour Councillors in Dartford have this evening opposed the budget presented by Conservative controlled Dartford Borough Council. The Conservatives proposed the maximum possible increase to Council Tax of £4.95 or 2.9%. while also delivering £250,000 worth of budget cuts. 1 The tax hike follows increases by Tory run Kent County Council (also voted for by Jeremy Kite and Dartford Conservative County Councillors), Police and Fire authorities and some Conservative run Parish Councils. On average, Dartford residents will be £80 worse off a year as a result of the Tory tax increases 2
The budget offers no new money for the Conservatives failing waste collection service 3 even though residents suffered huge delays and missed collections over the Christmas period, leading the rubbish piling up in the streets. The Conservatives also proposed to cut the budget for CCTV 4 at a time when police numbers have been cut and instances of anti-social behaviour and street violence are rising.
Dartford Labour Group Leader Councillor Jonathon Hawkes said:
“This is a Conservative budget that is making the wrong choices and has the wrong priorities. It is a budget that has literally nothing to say about the big issues facing Dartford – how we provide more affordable homes, how we tackle air pollution and congestion, how we deliver the infrastructure to support our growing population. It’s status quo budget when Dartford needs ideas and innovation.”
“Massive cuts to local government funding have resulted in a Council Tax hike for local people – but its unacceptable that Dartford residents are paying more, but getting less. Services are deteriorating – with no better example that the Tories calamitous bin collection service reached new levels of incompetence over Christmas with thousands of homes suffering missed and late collections and rubbish piling up in the streets. People are being asked to pay more, but the Tories have chosen not to allocate money to improve this service which is clearly failing residents. That’s the wrong choice.”
“It’s ludicrous and reckless for the Conservative Council to be cutting the budget for important crime prevention measures like CCTV at a time when police numbers are being cut and instances of anti-social behaviour and street violence are on the rise. The first duty of a council is to protect its residents. This Conservative Council is not getting the basics right.”
Labour also forced the Conservative Council into U-turn after the budget proposed to break a commitment made in 2012 to pay its staff a Living Wage. Instead of the recognised real Living Wage rate as set by the Living Wage Foundation (£8.45ph), the Council’s pay policy is for its lowest paid employees was inked to governments so called ‘national living wage’ 5 which according the Living Wage Foundation is “not calculated according to what employees and their families need to live”. Labour raised concerns with officers and forced the Tories into a climbdown on the night of the budget.
Councillor Hawkes said “Labour has forced a U-turn from the Tories on their broken promise to pay staff a real living wage and shows you just cannot trust the Conservatives to tackle low pay. A Labour Council in 2019 will take immediate steps to pay all our hard-working staff a real living wage, ensure all the minimum rate for all council paybands are at or above the real living wage and will become an accredited living wage employer.”
Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Josh Jones voiced concerns that the Conservative budget did not contain measures to tackle Dartford’s affordable homes crisis.
“Dartford is experiencing one of the fastest rates of population growth in the South East, but this Conservative Budget has no plan to build the homes that ordinary Dartford people need. This administration has failed year after year to deliver against a target of providing 30% affordable homes. It’s just not good enough when homelessness levels are rising and not good enough when the amount we’re spending on temporary accommodation is spiralling. This Conservative Council is not serious about providing the homes Dartford people need.”
Councillor Jonathon Hawkes said that a Labour Council in Dartford would take a different approach to the budget.
“A Labour Council would deliver a completely different budget – a budget that listens, not disregards the views of Dartfordians. A budget that focuses on the priorities for growing our town, spreading prosperity and tacking the big issues we face together as a community.”
- Page 11 of budget report – section 4.8
- Individual council tax bills differ because of different Parish and Town Council precepts. £80 represents the average annual increase to bills in Dartford after increase at Kent Council, Dartford Council, the Police and Fire precept and Parish Precepts
- Page 31 of the budget report makes clear the additional £83,000 allocated to the waste collection service is in respect of the additional homes in the Borough – not investment to improve the service.
- Page 51 of the budget report
- Page 258 of the budget report