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Support urged for anti-cuts campaign
YORK’S councillors are to be asked to give cross-party support to a city-led campaign demanding the Government halts “destructive” funding cuts for local authorities.
City of York Council leader James Alexander said “disproportionate” reductions in local authority funding from Westminster were harming vulnerable people.
He also claimed local government was being hit harder than other areas of the public sector.
Coun Alexander will table a motion at a council meeting tomorrow night asking opposition parties to join Labour in an “enough is enough” campaign, calling on the Government to reassess council funding.
He blamed “deficit panic” for councils being forced to make savings which outstripped those forced on other public services. He said any campaign would be “non-partisan” and parties who did not sign up would be guilty of shedding “crocodile tears” over cuts.
He said: “Parties must come together and say enough is enough. We have identified £41 million of savings since the last General Election and future savings will be required each year well into the next spending review period. Residents are unhappy at the way these cuts are hitting council services, and rightly so.
“We understand local government has to take its share of the pain, but we are doing far more than other areas of the public services. In 2015, there will be a 0.6 per cent reduction in public expenditure, yet for local government it will be 5.6 per cent. We invite other parties to join us so York can lead on a national campaign.”
• YORK looks likely to avoid the need for a referendum on its council tax rise for next year.
As reported by The Press, City of York Council leader James Alexander said the authority had budgeted for a two per cent rise in bills in 2013/14, despite the Government confirming it would set aside £450 million to help councils freeze levels.
Coun Alexander said not increasing tax bills would mean further cuts and affect services.
The Government’s plans mean any local authority which wants to raise council tax by more than two per cent will have to hold a referendum, giving residents the chance to veto it – but York’s plans would not make this necessary.
Coun Chris Steward, corporate services spokesman for the Conservative opposition group, said the Government offer rewarded councils which were “spending prudently and looking to make savings”.