Bury Council met on Wednesday 24 February 2021 to set the Council Budget for the coming year, including the rates of Council Tax. Here is a summary of what happened:
The proposals from the majority Labour Group of councillors were adopted. This includes:
– 5% increase in Council Tax (actually 4.94%) from 1 April 2021. For a Band D property the Council Tax will be £2001 per year (this ranges from Band A £1334 to Band H £4002)
– 1.5% increase in Council House rents
– To balance the books, the Council is proposing to make around £20 million of cuts/savings over the next two years (mostly to adult social care), but also to spend £26 million of its reserves (taking the reserves level down to a very low level (just £11 million after two years)).
– The budget assumes that the Longfield Suite and the Elizabethan Suite will close (but there was a change of mind in Ramsbottom and the Civic Suite there will stay open).
– Street lights will be dimmed between midnight and 6am.
– £17 million will be spent next year on Radcliffe Regeneration. Regeneration in other towns is moving more slowly, so the investment in Prestwich next year is just £75,000.
Some good news in the proposals was that the Council will ‘more towards’ Social Care staff being paid a living wage (but that won’t be achieved immediately). Lunches for children entitled to Free School Meals will be provided over this summer holiday.
What did the Liberal Democrats do?
Liberal Democrat councillors voted against the above budget. There are some good things, and obviously the Council is having to do its best in difficult circumstances, but we couldn’t not support many of the proposals.
We made alternative proposals, which were sadly voted down, to:
– Bring Forwards the Prestwich Regeneration, accelerating this process but £3 million a year.
– Put Recovery First – by investing in young people’s jobs and training with a massive increase in apprentices, helping out with children’s mental health in schools and with outdoor leisure and footpaths.
– No Idling Zones outside Schools – provide money to enforce no-idling zones outside all schools to tackle air pollution that particularly affects children.
– Common Sense Ideas – fixing the CCTV that doesn’t work in Prestwich Town Centre, more money across Bury to tackle rat runs, speeding traffic and potholes.
Sadly these proposals were voted down by Labour Councillors and will not be happening this year.
You can listen to Liberal Democrat Councillors Michael Powell and Cristina Tegolo talking about this proposals here (3 hours 2 minutes in!)
Let us know if you want more information. The full papers for the meeting are here.