Council tax increase higher than necessary

At the December meeting of Shropshire Council, I asked the Leader, Cllr Peter Nutting, whether the current financial position was similar to that published previously – notably before the Council elections in May. He confirmed that indeed it was so I then asked why, in November, he talked of having to make some difficult decisions about next year’s budget. This was pertinent because no significant action has been taken to generate extra income or make savings to address the budget gap. I suggested that this six-month delay had jeopardised a potential saving of some £3m which we will never get back. He agreed with me then that my logic wasn’t flawed.

I’m therefore very disappointed that Shropshire Council is likely to increase Council Tax by 5.99%, at a time when many folk in the county are struggling with modest or no increases in their income. In my view this was eminently avoidable.

Other charging bodies for the Much Wenlock electoral division are deciding on the increase (if any) on their part of the Council Tax bill to be charged from April as follows:

Shropshire Council 5.99% (still to be confirmed)
Barrow Parish Council Nil
Broseley Town Council 2.43%
Easthope, Shipton & Stanton Long Parish Council Nil
Much Wenlock Town Council 2.00%
Shropshire Fire Authority 0.50% (still to be confirmed)
West Mercia Police        4.00%        (out for public consultation)

My loyalty to the Conservative Administration’s line will be severely tested at the February meeting of Council when this is to be decided. In the meantime, I am a member of a cross-party group of Shropshire Councillors selected to run a critical eye over the financial plan. You can comment on the proposals outlined in the Financial Strategy for 2018/19 by going to Shropshire Council’s website www.shropshire.gov.uk and clicking on “Get Involved”. The consultation is open until 21st February.