By Catherine Roberts
Conservative and Labour parties will try to stop the Greens’ proposed tax hike at today’s budget meeting.
All 54 councillors on Brighton and Hove City Council will convene to agree the revenue budget and council tax for the upcoming two years.
The Greens have asked for support from the opposition, but they are unlikely to receive it. Even if the Conservative amendments are outvoted in favour of the Greens, they are willing to back Labour’s amendments in order to secure a council tax freeze.
Coun Jason Kitcat – the council’s cabinet member for finance – insisted that the Green budget proposals must not be taken out of context.
The Greens argue that accepting a tax freeze would not be in-keeping with the government’s national austerity policy; similarly, accepting the offered £3 million central subsidy would be harmful in the long run.
Party leader, MP Caroline Lucas, said: “If councils accept Mr Pickles’ [Local Government minister] tax freeze this year, they will have to make much bigger cuts next year – and the year after.”
The Tory and Labour parties are opposed to the Greens’ suggested budget cuts, which range from closing some pubic toilets to the controversial rise in allotment fees. The Argus has raised protest within the local community, resulting in a recent poll which concluded that 68% of 7000 people who voted online supported the tax freeze.
Conservative leader Coun Geoffrey Theobald added that an under spend of £3.2 million was projected, so the tax hike was unnecessary.
However savings of over £80 million are forecast to be needed over the next four years and an increase in council tax of 3.5% could provide a more viable budget option for the future as well as minimising the pressure placed on vital public services.
The budget meeting will be held at 4.30pm this afternoon at Brighton Town Hall.
Check back at Brighton Lite on Friday for a full report of the meeting.