Local Government Minister slams Kingston Council

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By adam_leone | Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 14:04

Local Government Minister, Brandon Lewis has slammed Kingston Council for not accepting the council tax freeze deal worth £450 million.

He's said: "It is disappointing that Kingston Council are throwing our £450m freeze deal in residents faces and seeking to raise council tax."

He went on to add how Kingston Council could save money from different avenues: "They should be looking for efficiency savings and rooting out waste as recommended in the Government's 'fifty ways to save' guide."

"Town halls looking to hike up the cost of living are showing real contempt for hard-working families and pensioners."

In response to the backlash, Councillor Rolson Davies, Kingston Council's Lead Member for Finance and Resources says: "The government wants to cover up the fact that its freeze offer would have given us partial protection for a limited period of time and do nothing to protect vital services in the future."

He added: "Ministers want to distract people from the fact that local authorities like Kingston are having to make tough choices about services and about Council Tax."

Looking ahead, Government funding for Kingston Council would have fallen by a third by 2014.

Mr Davies said: "Kingston Council will have saved more than £32million over the past three years during which an additional £1.7m will have been raised from the council tax increase."

"Councillors have a duty to make responsible decisions that balance the impact of a council tax increase against the services that would be lost without it. That is what we have done."

Council Tax has been frozen for the last two years, with householders in a Band D now having to pay 52p a week.

Mr. Davies then went on to say: "We don't need lessons from the government about how to save council tax payers money."

"Its '50 ways to save' smokescreen simply lists things which, as a well-managed council, we already do and have done for some time. For example: Kingston has the best Council Tax collection rate in London (99 per cent)."

"Our councillors have been praised by the Tax Payers Alliance for having the lowest allowances in London; we have never had a staff canteen or travelled first class; and we've had special spending controls in place for years."



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