WHICH public services should be axed to limit this year's county Council Tax increase to five per cent? This is the question Huntingdonshire residents are to be asked this weekend and next. But with a 10 per cent increase needed for service levels just to
WHICH public services should be axed to limit this year's county Council Tax increase to five per cent? This is the question Huntingdonshire residents are to be asked this weekend and next.But with a 10 per cent increase needed for service levels just to stand still, and the ruling Tories' determination to peg back any increase to five per cent, the Liberal Democrat Opposition on Cambridgeshire County Council has branded the consultation exercise a "con trick."Although the county is consulting on increases of four, five and six per cent after what leader Councillor Keith Walters called "a woeful Government funding settlement" for 2006/07, any one of those levels will mean service cuts.Council leaders will be at Huntingdon library on Friday evening and St Neots library on Saturday afternoon next week to garner public opinion - ironically the very places on which the axe is likely to fall.But the Lib Dems accused the Tories of trying to hide behind the public and blame the cuts on the consultation.Councillor Judy Broadway said: "They can't pretend that the Cambridgeshire public really has a choice in the level of Council Tax rise. The option of a six per cent rise might well provoke Government capping, and the four per cent figure would mean unacceptably high cuts to services."In effect, the council has already decided on five per cent," she said."Instead of blaming the Government for the current predicament, the responsibility for poor services and further cuts lies instead with the council's financial mismanagement and past spending and taxing decisions."Efficiency reforms should also have saved us £1.6 million. Surely we should be seeing some benefit from that."Cllr Broadway urged the public to demand to be told the real implications of the options, "particularly the cuts proposed for home care services and support for disabled children".INFORMATION: The consultations are at Huntingdon library from 5.30pm to 7pm this Friday and at St Neots library on Saturday January 21 from 2pm until 4pm.