District council’s budget approved despite opposition

Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Shellens.

Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Shellens. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire District Council’s budget has been approved for 2016/17 despite a last minute push from Liberal Democrat members.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (February 24) it was proposed to raise the authority’s precept for Council Tax by two per cent and cut travel allowance for all members.

The motion was put forward by councillor for Huntingdon East Mike Shellens, he said: “The list of cuts is hugely depressing and will have a major impact on the lives of the poor, the ill, the disabled and the frail.

“I suggested that we move half of the money produced from the proposals to the voluntary sector and the other to prop up reserves.”

This was dismissed by a number of those members who voted instead to freeze Council Tax for the forthcoming year and keep car allowances.

UKIP member for Ramsey Councillor Anne Duffy said: “I think it is for us all not to just talk about cuts and raising taxes but to find revenue streams for our council.”

The two per cent increase would have produced £158,000 this year, £323,000 in the next year rising to £879,000 in 2020/21.

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“Yes, we need to eliminate waste, yes we need greater efficiency, I do not decry the sharing of back office functions to save money – we need all of these, but we also need cash.

“The decision will have significant impact on the quality of life of many in our society and the quality of society in which we all live.

“By passing up the chance of modest increases in one year we lose forever the compound interest effect on our capacity to serve,” said Cllr Shellens.

The approval of the council’s budget will see the authority having to save another £3.6 million over the next five years.

Executive leader Councillor Jason Ablewhite said: “We are the Good ship Huntingdonshire, still going strong still making improvements. “Unlike most other councils once again we have frozen Council Tax for next year, and this will be the fourth consecutive year.”

As a result of the move by councillors the authority’s precept will now stay at £133.18.