Council tax in Lancashire to rise after cuts budget gets the nod

LOBBYING: Protestor Andrew Kay talks to council leader Coun Jennifer Mein
LOBBYING: Protestor Andrew Kay talks to council leader Coun Jennifer Mein
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Council tax in Lancashire will rise by almost two per cent in April after the ruling Labour group pushed through their controversial cost-cutting budget last night.

A last gasp attempt by the Tory opposition to derail the increase was defeated in a stormy four-hour meeting at County Hall.

Councillors, who had been lobbied by around 70 union protestors on their way into the meeting, voted to accept the budget which will make £76m of savings to services in the next financial year, but also lead to an estimate 2,500 job losses in the long-term.

Labour’s deputy leader Coun David Borrow insisted: “We have tried to focus savings where there will be no impact on quality and quantity of services on the frontline. But we can’t get away from the fact that many savings do impact on the residents of Lancashire.

“Balancing the books for the years ahead isn’t going to be easy. And the scale of the reduction in financial support from the Government leaves us with some very difficult choices to make.”

Tory leader Coun Geoff Driver, whose party were ousted from control last May after the Liberal Democrats formed an alliance with Labour, put forward an alternative list of economy measures which he argued would prevent the tax rise of around 42p week for a band D property.

But his plan for a freeze was thrown out when the alliance held firm with a 46-33 vote to accept the budget. He described it as “everything that’s bad about a Labour council.”

And he told them: “You have gone about it in a completely wrong way. And worst of all you have caused panic across the whole of the workforce by saying 2,500 will go. Every single member of the staff thinks their job is at risk.”

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