BUDGET IS PASSED: But council tax will rise to save vital services

Council leader Pete Marland
Council leader Pete Marland

City people will bear the brunt of a “chaotic” council budget with a two per cent council tax increase next month.

In a desperate bid to stop the government taking control of council finances, leader Pete Marland has negotiated last-minute changes to Labour’s controversial budget.

The original proposal was rejected during a heated debate in the chamber last Wednesday. Councillors reconvened tonight to pass the revised budget.

Tory MP Iain Stewart slammed the decision to increase council tax, saying he was “bitterly disappointed”.

He said: “This council budget has been chaotic and lacked any kind of long-term strategy.

“I do not believe my constituents will be happy to see their council tax bill rise while there is scope for significant internal savings to be made.”

From next month, the average household will pay £1,160.23 a year - an increase of £22.20.

Labour say the rise, which amounts to £800,000 for the council, will help save vital public services that had been facing the axe.

A total of £2.5million has been put back into the budget to restore services, including bus subsidies, homeless 
hostels, voluntary organisations and luncheon clubs.

The Citizen previously revealed that a parking crisis threatened to topple the council and kill off business in Central Milton Keynes. Since then, the council has agreed to postpone reducing the employee parking discount until 2016/17.

This is to allow a “long-term transport strategy” to be developed with business leaders and for additional parking spaces to be provided in agreed locations over the next 12 months.

Council leader Pete Marland said no-one had “showered themselves in glory” over this, but lessons had been learnt. He added: “It has been about making changes which are sustainable for the future.

“We did not want to put up council tax, but when we are having to cut £22million we will have to make difficult 
decisions.”