Sunday, February 04, 2007

Political Parties Produce Their Budget Proposals for the City Council

Last week all three political parties on Southampton City Council produced details of their spending plans for the City Council for the next three years.

The Administration (Lib Dem) budget is published in full on the Southampton City Council Website and will be presented at the Council Cabinet meeting tomorrow. Details can be found
HERE. Links to the main report and various appendices can be found under A4a
General Fund Revenue Budget 2007/08 - 2009/10

Conservative and Labour opposition budget proposals have also been released and will be published on the Council website ahead of the meeting of the full council on 14th February, when Councillors will agree a budget for the city. I will post links so soon as they are on the city council website.

A brief summary is as follows:

What you would pay under each of the parties

Labour = 4.5% increase in Council Tax
Lib Dem = 3.5% increase in Council Tax
Conservative = 2.7% increase in Council Tax

Note: The Government's Official Figure for the rate of inflation rate = 3%

HERE to see what the current Council Tax charges are:

Conservative Proposals

Conservative priorities for Southampton are: more money into roads and street lighting, social services, waste collection and recycling and fighting crime whilst keeping council tax as low as possible.

If the Conservatives were running the City Council we would use powers available to us to further reduce the burden of Council Tax on some groups.

10% reduction in Council Tax for Pensioners

Pensioners in particular struggle to meet high council tax bills on their fixed incomes. The inflation rate paid by pensioners on goods and services has been widely reported over recent months as being around 9%. In recognition of this we would introduce a 10% reduction in Council Tax for pensioner households (where everyone in the house is over 65). This would be a reduction of 10% on what is currently charged.

Scrap Council Tax for Special Constables

We would scrap Council Tax for households where there is a special constable living there. I.e. there would a be a 100% discount. This would we hope encourage more people to sign up to become specials in the city.

HERE for an explanation of what discounts currently exist and how they work.

Where the Conservatives would spend more:
- Introduce free Hampshire wide bus travel for Southampton residents (currently it is only free within the city boundaries and to a few select locations like Totton).
- Keep the weekly bin collection rather than going to once a fortnight.
- Reject Lib Dem plans to introduce night car parking charges in the city centre.
- Extra funding for introducing residents' parking schemes where they are wanted.
- Protect funding to children's centres which look after abused and vulnerable children.
- Reduce Charges for home care for elderly (reverse extra charges introduced by Labour and Lib Dems last year).
- Protect funding for advice centres which provide housing advice to people in danger of exploitation from unscrupulous landlords.
- Increase funding to residents associations.
- Fund a feasibility study into building a heritage centre at the Civic Centre.
- More recycling initiatives (such as commerical waste recycling, glass and textiles).

Where the Conservatives would spend less or save money:
- Reduce bureaucracy.
- Reduce Councillors allowances and fewer trips abroad for Councillors!
- Deletion of non front line vacant posts.
- Scrap City Council subsidy to trade unions.
- Reduce expenditure on printing (glossy booklets and the like).
- Have a recruitment freeze on some back office posts.
- Generate more money from the city council's £130m art collection.
- Generate more money from sponsorship.
- Delete Neighbourhood Partnerships.

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