Party battle lines have been drawn in advance of tomorrow’s (Wednesday) budget meeting of Milton Keynes Council.
Opposition Conservatives and Lib Dems have put forward their amendments to Labour’s budget proposals on the hung council.
The Conservatives are proposing spending up to £425,000 on a trial of free parking for two hours on Sundays across the city. It would run for an initial period of three months at first but could go to 12 months after a review.
Among a range of proposals, they also want to invest £217,000 in returning to free recycling sack deliveries, a £200,000 campaign to support the council’s ambition to be the Greenest City in the World, £250,000 to improve drainage clearance, and £150,000 to deal with unauthorised encampments.
Tory councillor Allan Rankine tweeted: “MK Conservatives will be putting in amendments to the budget at full council this week which will make our streets cleaner, introduce a free parking trial and help business. Do MK Labour and Lib Dem’s care about these things? We will soon find out.”
Even though the Conservatives are the largest party group with 23 councillors, it is Labour, with 21 seats, who hold power, due to an arrangement with the 12 Lib Dems. There is also one Independent councillor, the former Tory, Andy Dransfield.
Lib Dem councillor Ric Brackenbury dismissed the Conservatives’ amendment on recycling sacks in a tweet as “going backwards”.
However, both the Tories and the Lib Dems have lodged amendments regarding the local environment.
The Lib Dems want to spend £100,000 on weeding and landscaping, £50,000 to fund the replacement of missing street naming signs, and £50,000 to fund a project officer to support the transfer of land to the Parks Trust after completion of the current maintenance contract.
They also want to put aside £57,000 on tackling little hot spots, with £3,000 on each of the council’s 19 electoral wards.
Both opposition parties have identified sources of funding for their proposals without the need to further increase council tax.
Following councillors’ deliberations tomorrow (Wednesday), the level of the borough’s council tax for the benchmark Band D household is set to rise by 2.99 per cent to £1,381.65. This will provide £117.2 million for Milton Keynes Council and a sum for the 47 parish councils.
The demands from the police and fire service will be added to this amount to give the final total to be sent out in bills next month.