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Rises in council tax and housing rents are agreed
Residents in Aireborough and parts of Wharfedale will pay higher council tax and housing rents this year.
A 1.99 per cent council tax rise and 5.9 per cent hike in housing rents and service charges was agreed by Leeds City Council last week.
Nineteen proposed amendments to the controlling Labour administration’s budget had been put forward by the Tory and Liberal Democrat groups at the full council meeting on Wednesday, February 26.
But in the end only one, a scheme to bolster council house building by borrowing £4 million, held sway.
After a lengthy debate, none of the 95 councillors present voted against the new budget, though 34 abstained.
Council leader Councillor Keith Wakefield (Lab, Kippax & Methley) criticised the Government for making repeated, multi-million pound funding reductions to the city which represented “a financial blitz on councils”.
But while admitting that a difficult decision had to be made in the budget to save money, he also paid tribute to council staff for coping so well while facing increasingly tough challenges.
Deputy leader of the Conservatives, Councillor John Procter (Con, Wetherby), however claimed his group had put forward a “deliberately very modest budget amendment” that would have frozen council tax for the next two years.
The Otley & Yeadon ward’s three Lib Dem Councillors, Ryk Downes, Colin Campbell and Sandy Lay, also criticised the new budget.
Coun Downes said: “This is doubly disappointing because the Government had offered the council an extra £1million to freeze local tax levels. That is why at the meeting I seconded an amendment which would have maintained council tax at its present level, thus providing much needed help to families.
“The one positive point for local business is that the Council have at last accepted my suggestion to give new business in Otley and Yeadon a business rate holiday.”
Coun Campbell added: “We are sorry they failed to take positive steps on some of our other proposals. These included providing an extra half million pounds to improve children’s health, the freezing of charges in children’s centres, extra bin collections including a food waste collection, and improved cycling facilities paid for by reducing high mileage payments to council officers.
“We also proposed that we set aside a fund to help communities buy locally valued assets, for example the old auction site in Otley or Yeadon Banks.”
The council will shed another 200 jobs this year, following more than 1,800 job losses that have been made over the past three years, in a further bid to cut costs.
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