Friday, 25 October 2013

Tory Council Tax Rise on cards

Despite the warm words in today’s paper from the Medway Tories on efficiency and effectiveness there is still far too much waste and casual disregard for the public pound. 

It has all but been confirmed that the Medway Conservative Party will increase Council Tax on hardworking residents next Spring.

The record of a 33% increase in Council Tax over a decade is highly likely to continue. The one consolation is that the Labour legacy of the lowest Council Tax in Kent will remain.

When it comes to managing the finances this Council has a lamentable track record and MPs that simply aren't willing or able to hold them to account. 

Remember the Local Budget this year that simply didn’t add up; the botched Chatham bus station; the multi-million pound Stoke ‘Bridge-to-nowhere’; the Strood Civic Centre car park; the ‘dodgy’ Medway Tunnel and the countless other overspends over the last 10 years. Remember also this is the same Tory Council that has refused to cut down the Pravda sheet paper roll, or look at the CCTV cars despite Eric Pickles wide-fingered lamentations. The same Tories that promised not to scrap weekly bin collections in 2007 are now claiming, audaciously, to have re-introduced weekly collections on every tweet from the Council e-media team in 2013. 

This is a two-faced and rotten Conservative Council that is happier fiddling with press releases on the Bedroom Tax then serving the most vulnerable residents. The record on education is woeful; our local NHS is under special measures; a Council that talks about diversity but whose administration oppose Equal Marriage proposals. The same Medway Tories that last week scoffed and cheered at the profit some members made out of under-valued Royal Mail shares; but shed not one whimper of sympathy for the lowest paid for a Living Wage.

The wrong values that are corrosive and a Council that doesn’t listen and costs us all in the pocket.

Liberal Democrat bloggers and members have a simple choice; you can bend over backwards to support Tory MPs if you so choose but it is the residents they and you purport to serve that are being so callously let down. Liberal Democrat voters have already made the move long ago. 

These are Tories that don't listen to residents; Sure Start users in Chatham;  elderly residents on Nelson Terrace in Luton; the residents concerned about the airfield in Rochester South and Horsted and the thousands stuck in Chatham traffic jams every weekday and weekend. The list goes on and on, week after week; Chatham high-street small business traders and teaching assistants just in the last six months.

From over-zealous and mis-budgeted parking charges, ‘Medway Matter’ Pravda sheets, CCTV 'Vulture' cars, Mayoral fine-fingered food frippery and now Council Tax rises. This is just the recent news items.

All Council’s borrow but it is what they spend it on that marks the difference; the Tories would rather spend £4.4m of public cash to fund a very publicly decried tarmac runway on the Rochester airfield to help fyling elites.

If you are going to attack Labour to borrow relatively small and costed sums; don’t have copious multi-million pound projects botched or mired in controversy hovering over like a foul smog-like legacy.  Don’t have a local development framework bogged down so far in bureaucratic bungling it serves as a running joke.

Labour would rather help small business and Sure Starts not airfield flyers. Labour would rather spend money on low paid cleaning staff and teaching assistants for struggling schools, and not wine and ginger beer for Mayoral Tea-party Tories. Labour would rather improve our residential roads then see the introduction of a Medway tunnel tax that will soon have to take its toll from Medway residential road budgets when the RBT grant runs dry.

The left does believe that the state can do positive and empowering things; but it also believes that institutional Conservatism and outdated local government structures need to be reformed. 

The last Labour Council abolished several layers of Local Government in Medway that created the Unitary Authority; the legacy was low Council Tax for all. A similar and brave position needs to be taken on reforming and recasting how the Council works with the public pound after 2015; when the legacy from this incompetent shambles is a black-hole.

A Council Tax rise is now on the cards for 2013/14; but make no mistake this Council; its political leadership; and its institutionally conservative structures are not spending your money wisely, and are certainly not listening to you about how to spend it. 

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