Telford & Wrekin Council has decided to put up council tax by only 2.9% this year.
Fantastic. The only problem is that it leaves the budget £2.3m short so they’re topping the budget up out of the borough’s cash reserves. The £2.3m represents a third of the reserves and the amount of cash needed to fulfil the council’s promises is actually more than 8% higher than last year. This means that the only way to sustain the level of spending they’re promising for this year is to bump up council tax by double-figures. The alternative is to cut services or raid the reserves again.
Now, I have been accused of cynicism in the past so it may be unfair to suggest that this is the action of an increasingly desperate Labour council that has recently lost its majority to a local residents group in an election year. It might also be unfair to suggest that the unsustainably low council tax demand is a thinly-veiled attempt to trick residents into voting Labour again in May with the added bonus that if the Tories win as expected they’ll inherit a bankrupt local authority and will have no choice but to cut services and investment.
Of course, you’d have to be a real cynic to think that they’d do such a thing. Again.