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‘Waste of council tax’ attack on James Alexander
THE leader of City of York Council has been accused of wasting tax payers’ money while preaching financial expedience to other “teetering” local authorities.
In an interview given to The Press on Tuesday, Labour group leader, James Alexander said struggling councils could face bankruptcy if they accepted the Government’s tax freeze option, only to face paying back more in the following years.
After confirming council taxes would rise again in York next financial year, he said: “We are taking tough decisions now and investing for the future to ensure York is not among this list of teetering councils.”
However, Carol Runciman, Lib Dem group leader, said York would only face bankruptcy if Coun Alexander’s party “continued to waste money, increase borrowing, and fail to get budgets under control”.
She said: “Labour have increased costly borrowing by £20 million to fund schemes like buying a disused canal boat to turn into an ‘arts barge’ and attending an estate agents conference in France.
“Meanwhile, cabinet member travel expenses and allowances have rocketed under Labour.”
Conservative group member Chris Steward accused Coun Alexander of “treating people like fools” and blaming the Government for his choices, when they were caused by “his party’s mistakes when in government or his misplaced priorities in York”.
Coun Alexander hit back, saying the Lib Dem criticisms typified why the party had achieved few significant economic developments while in power.
He also said Coun Steward should understand that accepting the freeze grant this year would mean “almost £1.5m more in cuts in two years time or a much higher council tax increase.”
He said: “As agreed in full council last February, our proposal for an average 38p a week increase will be wholly dedicated to increasing the budget in adult social care in the face of rising costs due to an ageing population, the same reason why neighbouring Conservative-run Selby is increasing council tax too.”