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Council tax to rise and services to be cut in Wakefield as budget gets the green light

Peter Box
Peter Box

Council tax will rise and services will be cut as Wakefield Council slashes £28m from its budget.

Wakefield Council approved its budget for the next financial year as leader Peter Box blamed cuts from central government for Wakefield's financial woes, labelling it an "attack on our residents".

Council

Council

The authority plans to increase charges for people using its bereavement, registrar and sport and leisure services, as well as introducing fees at some, currently free, car parks.

It is also proposing to make savings by reviewing library facilities, changing bin rounds and cutting back on staff including senior managers.

Coun Box said: "The last eight years have been a sustained attack on local government by the Conservatives.

"During that time we've seen our budget reduced by 53 per cent, which in real terms amounts to some £128m.

"This is not simply at attack on local governments - it's an attack on local democracy and it's an attack on our residents and the local services which help improve their quality of life.

"I want to make it clear that the proposal regarding burial and cremation fees with not be implemented without full consultation - ensuring that any policy does not discriminate against any faith."

The council plans to increase council tax bills by 2.9 per cent rise to cover services including bin collection and road maintenance plus a further two per cent precept for adult social care.

The precept will increase by a further 1 per cent the following financial year to its maximum of 3 per cent as allowed by the government.

Coun Box said. "This gives a total increase of 4.9 per cent and means that this year Wakefield will have the lowest council tax in West Yorkshire - and one of the lowest in the country for metropolitan authorities.

"Let's be clear - 40 per cent of this year's total increase in because the Conservatives have placed the cost of adult social care on the shoulders of local taxpayers rather than through central taxation."

Conservative group leader Nadeem Ahmed said: "Council tax has increased under Labour every single year since I have been a councillor.

"The vast majority of people in Wakefield do not want to see their council tax increase. People look at what's in front of them and say 'what are we getting for this?'

"We are paying more for less."

Coun Ahmed was broadly criticised by Labour members for failing to suggest an alternative budget.

South Elmsall and South Kirkby councillor Michelle Collins asked him: "Coun Ahmed, where are you alternative figures? It is a disrespect to our community to sit there without putting forward an alternative."

Around £300,000 will be cut in a library review and £130,000 from bins.

£1.3m will be cut by reducing senior management and other roles while £130,000 will be saved by reducing the number of council buildings.

The council said it would save almost £900,000 by being more commercial in providing sports and leisure facilities, including increases fees and charges.

The revenue aspect of the budget, which covers the day-to-day cost of running services, was passed by full council 44 votes to five, with three abstentions and nine absences.

The capital aspect - which covers larger individual spending projects like council hub Wakefield One or the new Minsthorpe Leisure Centre - was passed by 36 votes to seven, with two abstentions and nine absences.