Last week was Bury’s ‘Budget Council’ meeting. This is the important meeting of all 51 councillors to set the budget for 2022-23.
The budget which the Council agreed was as proposed by the Labour group, who form a majority on the Council at the moment.
This means that:
Council Tax will rise by just under 3%. This is 1.94% increase proposed by Bury Council and a further 1% ‘Social Care Precept’ to help pay for the money the Council spends on social care.
The new charges will be:
Bury Council’s total ‘revenue’ budget (ie day to day spending) is £177 million for 2022/23. The budget includes changes which have to happen recurrently (e.g. inflation, costs, increases of demand) of around £17 million and savings have had to be made of around £6 million for 2022-23. Importantly the Council is using reserves of £14 million this year to make the books balance, which can obviously only be done once.
The ‘capital’ budget – one off investment spending – includes very major spending on regeneration programmes in Bury town centre, in Radcliffe and also in Prestwich village centre. Worth noting that in 2022-23, the amount to be spent in Prestwich is £1.6 million, while the amount spent in Bury and Radcliffe is a whopping £62 million…..
In addition we have to pay smaller council tax bills to pay for the joint services which are under the control of the Greater Manchester Mayor. This consists of three separate charges – police, fire and ‘mayoral general’. These are rising by higher rates, which are 4.5% for police, 7.55% for fire and a 28% increase in the Mayoral General charge. The letter is to mostly pay for bus re-regulation, a process which starts in the next year.
What did the your Liberal Democrat councillors do?
We voted against the budget as a whole. Although there are some good things proposed, on balance we could not support such high rises in Council Tax when people are struggling with the cost of living, and are very worried about the high level of reserves which are being used.
We also proposed an amendment, to make different spending choices. This was:
– Money to help local businesses in Prestwich who are being affected by the end of leases in the Longfield and the expected demolition of the area.
– Investment in speed reduction initiatives in residential areas – some areas are crying out for measures to stop rat runs or speeding traffic.
– Introducing ‘no idling’ zones outside of all schools, to reduce the air pollution that builds up at the start and end of the school day.
– More help for people struggling with energy bills, specifically a larger team of energy advice workers who able to advise residents.
– Money to invest in cheaper and greener energy in our public buildings and council owned homes – e.g. replacing expensive and polluting oil boilers with green energy alternatives.
The amendment was defeated with all Labour and Conservative councillors voting against.
Papers for the whole budget are here.