Reading Conservatives tonight set out the case for freezing the Council Tax in Reading. Speaking at the Full Council meeting, Conservative Leader Cllr Jeanette Skeats said, “Under this Labour administration we are seeing a Council Tax rise of 1.9% and an increase in rent for Council house tenants of 2.9%. At a time when some residents are struggling and having to cut back, we have the Labour Party inflicting more financial pain and pressure on them.” She went on to state that a Conservative administration would aim to reduce the level of Council Tax while protecting front-line services, as had been done in Windsor and Maidenhead.
Finance Spokesman Cllr David Stevens welcomed the improved presentation of the Budget papers but attacked Labour’s proposed 1.9% increase. He noted that, “Labour has turned down a central Government “Freeze grant” of £700k which was available. From a total Budget of around £400m it should have been possible to find the additional £500k that would have been necessary to at least freeze the Council Tax.”
Deputy Leader Cllr Richard Willis noted that the Labour administration continued to allow the Trades Unions to use office space in the Council building free of charge and was proposing a 14% increase in the Communications budget. He said, “Reading has received the largest Revenue Support Grant in Berkshire (£33.2m), more than double the amount given to Windsor and Maidenhead (£14.6m), and yet they have managed to cut their Council Tax.”
Conservative Councillors joined with other Councillors to vote down a Green Party proposal to increase Council Tax by an inflation-busting 3.5%. Conservatives and Lib Dems then combined to vote against Labour’s 1.9% increase, which was passed by the Labour majority.