LETTER: Council finances are in chaos

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In a report to the meeting of High Peak’s Corporate Select Committee on November 30, councillor Emily Thrane, the executive member responsible for the council’s budget, announced that High Peak Borough Council’s council tax will rise by 1.9 per cent each year for the next four years. 
This is a public document which has been posted on the council’s website but to date no announcement has been made that this is the intention.
For each of the four years, 2011-2015, that Labour was in control, the Government cut its grant to the council by around £2.5 million per year. As former Labour leader Caitlin Bisknell put it in answer to a question in council in February 2015, this total amount was equivalent to a whole year’s revenue budget for the council. Yet the Labour administration, which ran the council until May, did not raise the council tax in a single year. 
And, though staffing was reduced to achieve this, not a single person was made compulsorily redundant. 
In fact in each year a surplus was achieved for the council which in Labour’s final year amounted to £1.4m. Councillor Thrane seems to have been able to squander even this bonus. 
This indeed is a condemnation of the competence of this tory council. 
The Conservative administration has been in control of the council for only eight months yet it has already demonstrated its failure to be able to run the council in a competent fashion, especially where its finances are concerned. 
Further, the figure of 1.9 per cent is highly significant. 
The Government has decreed that any rise of two per cent or above must be subject to a referendum of the electorate. 
So, this tory council has denied the people of High Peak an opportunity to have its say on whether they think council tax should be increased or not.
At the Corporate Select Committee meeting on July 13 this year, coun Thrane paid tribute to her Labour predecessor, coun Tim Norton, for the efficient way in which he had run the council’s finances. 
It is to the financial detriment of the people of High Peak that she is not following his example.

Godfrey Claff

High Peak Borough Councillor for Howard Town Ward

On behalf of High Peak Council Labour Group