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Council tax rises 3.5pc

Reporter: ERIN HEYWOOD
Date online: 28 February 2013

We’ve no other option - Labour
OLDHAM’s controversial proposal to increase council tax by 3.5 per cent was approved by a Labour-heavy full council meeting last night.

Strong speeches against the move came from Liberal Democrat councillors, who claimed they could reduce the rise by one per cent.

But Labour claimed there was no other option but to raise the tax if front-line services are to be retained.

The rise comes as the council tries to make around £38 million in savings for the coming financial year - following cuts of £100million over the past four years.

Owners of Band A properties in the borough will see their council tax rise by 60p a week; Band D properties by 90p from April.

Council leader Jim McMahon said of the proposals: “The people of Oldham are struggling, and they have not yet felt the true impact of Government changes to the benefits system.

“We have had to take a non-political view to see where money is going and where it can be saved.

“These are difficult times. But if this council shirks away from its responsibilities we are not failing ourselves, we are failing the next generation.”

Lib-Dems had made several recommendations to help limit the rise to 2.5 per cent, including reducing the council from 60 councillors to 40; culling administrative staff; privatising children’s homes and boosting income from town centre parking.

Lib-Dem leader Councillor Howard Sykes said his party supported 99 per cent of the new budget plan, but was outraged at the council tax proposals, calling the decision “draconian”.

Comments

I was of the understanding that any rise over 2% triggered a referendum. Are the council going to implement this, or have they found loopholes to get around putting it to a public vote?

There is nothing non-political about this Council. When there is a budget for "co-operative" reasons which had an extra £250m added to it, that should tell you all you need to know about how this Council operates. They could scrap Borough Life and scrap the Co-operative Fund and save almost £1m. Trim the Chief Execs salary by 10%. Everything this Labour Council does or says has a political angle to it. McMahon does not do non-political. He and his councillors do not know how to be non-political

Could someone tell me when we had a referendum on this because I must have missed it?

So much for the Localism Act

Cooperative Council – yes only when it suits

What an excellent suggestion from the Lib-Dems to reduce the Council from 60 to 40 members. The one sticking point on this, however, is that the full council will never vote this through. We need some kind of ombudsman to declare that henceforth each ward will only be represented by two councillors instead of three. Perhaps the Chief Executive could declare himself ombudsman and then declare a cut in his own remuneration. Now who was it said we needed the best ( i.e. most expensive) C/E?

so when is the vote coming? or is jim and his council going to bully this rise through and take absolutely no notice of the people of oldham who put him where he is now.

there are other options out there! like not wasting money on pointless art, developments and wasteful higher management wage bills within the council.

worrying thing is that this will become a double wammy as if the council block a referendum then they will face yet more cuts central government funding. so future rises to come

Thanks to all those rather arrogant Labour Cllr's I will now be down on a weeks worth of petrol for my car. A Council Tax rise which is hitting working people in the pocket.I note that Labour said it is a "miniscule rise" but it is not when people are trying to make a living! All they seem to care about are statues & keeping more Cllr's on the payroll than is needed. Is this Cllr McMahon's idea of a cooperative approach: I know how to spend your money better than you do so hand over even more!

And what when central govt claws back this rise by reducing their settlement as it has promised. So next year Oldham council will have the same it has this and will presumably need to raise council tax by 3.5% just to keep level.
Well done Jim & friends too stupid to read the writing on the wall.

The rise of 3.5% includes amounts for fire, police and parish precepts. If these are removed the basic council tax rate does not exceed the 2% threshold requiring a referendum. I would love Fairbank to explain where this extra £250m added to the budget came from???

So we keep all the councillors? Are we surprised? Not at all think we all knew this was going to be passed. Oh well thats my water rates up my Council tax up my gas and electric up my food bill up need I go on!!!!

As a tax paying pensioner a strongly object to what Mcmahon and co are doing to this town and it's citizens. We do not get enough in our pension to cover the increase nor do we get inflated allowances for making this once proud town a joke. Perhaps he can tell us why we are not having a referendum on this issue? I thought it was law to have one if the rise was 3.5% or above. Is he above the law or will this mean that next year our funding from central Gov is cut? Typical labour spend on rubbish

all labour councillors should hang there heads in shame....c/tax up 3.5%,rent up 5.5%,all in all why should i work a 40 hour week up at 7 in the morning home at 6....5 days a week on just above min wage when i cant afford the bills now will the recession ever end never not if every year labour puts all these bills up yet my wage never goes up above 1.5 % thats the most we have had in 2 years people have less & less disposable income result recession empty town centre shops closing

Dear OMBC,
Due to your decision to ignore the rules upon which increases in council tax of more than 2% require a referendum i hereby refuse to continue pay my my council tax until that vote has been given.

if every single tax payer sent that letter in and followed through with not paying the council would be stuffed!

bramble you continue clearly are proving to be one of jims minions by constantly supporting his causes! and dont deny it!
total council tax increase will be 3.5%. precept or not

Fedupoldhamer if you live in Royton South you will soon have the vote you crave.
use it well if not its next year

Council salaries:-
Chief executive £202,469
Assistant chief executive £149,370
1st Executive director £158,562
2nd Executive director £158,562
3rd Executive director £151,668
1st Assistant executive Director £120,645
2nd Assistant executive Director £126,390
Borough treasurer £114,900
Not all the people of Oldham are struggling then eh Jim?

Reduce the gravy train from 60 to 40? They were never, ever going to go for that were they! Why have we got that many anyway? What a complete joke this council is and always has been. Short-sighted isn't strong enough a saying.

Please please please go and read about the Govts offer to freeze council tax!! They are changing the rules so you only get 90% of previous funding which means the council has to find the difference on top of the already significant funding cut. The increase in council tax is to fund this central govt shortfall and is only a basic 2% increase. This will get worse once the Govts cuts to police and fire kick in as their precepts will increase

P.s do you really think that this decision would have been made without checking the legality and figures? Whether you like labour or not give them some respect. The Lib Dems alternative budget also proposes to increase council tax above this magic 2% and not one of you has criticised them? Everyone is so blinkered with by anti labour and Charlue Parker's salary they miss the bigger picture! Things will get worse if the govt continues to cut public funding at these levels

Bramble, maybe "everyone is so blinkered" because of the utter shambles this mob has made of Oldham. Stop defending a lost cause, Labour and Charlie Parkers salary are the bigger picture.
PS Which council department do you actually work in Bramble?

Howard Sykes has a bare-faced cheek, to talk of being "outraged", given what his party is doing to the people of this country, as part of the Coalition Government.

Fedupoldhamer - I am not denying anything but you continue to ignore facts. The basic council tax increase is only 2%, you can not ignore the increases in the precepts which are out of the council's control
Itslaughable - please give examples of the shambles you talk about? Most improved Council in the country including the number one finance service in the country? Your just obsessed with seeing the negative you forget the wider problems caused by the current coalition

@Bramble - I meant to say an extra £250,000 to that particular dept. but my sentiments remain the same. Labour could have frozen Council Tax for a 3rd year without affecting local services by spending their budget more wisely. And my point remains the same. Everything this Council does has a political angle to it. As I have said to you before, Councils have to live within the money they have been given from Central Govt.

No other option? What rot!
@Shaun McGrath. What did Labour do to our country? Sold our gold reserves off cheaply, abandoned the poor and the youth,
allowed the benefits bill to rise unchecked and left us with a deficit of £73bn BEFORE the banking crisis hit. It is the Coalition that is sorting out the mess. What ideas do you have that would sort it out?

itslaughable has hit the nail on the head,Those silly salaries at the top and Councillors reluctance to vote for xmas and go to 2 per ward show clearly how much public money is wasted at the overblown corporate wedge which is the civic centre.Procting front line services ? Dont make me laugh! Yes its almost laughable!

the solution is in the voters hands,at the next election get rid of them all,but the people who replace them could be the same or worse,it's the system that is designed to perpetuate this kind of trough feeding.I don't know what sort of change is needed.But this cannot go on much longer.

Looks like labour will be out next time around, make sure you remember this day when the polls open in 2014 plus any by elections soon to be held!

Fairbank - please tell me how you would have found the millions required without increasing council tax and protecting front line services? If you say reduce councillors by 20 and remove Charlie Parker then that's about £500k so quite a gap remains. You are very quick to accuse the council of poor management but I would love to hear your ideas???

For the millionth time Fairbank if you check you will see the govt is reducing the amount of funding they give you if you freeze council tax so the council would still be out of pocket by 10% on previous amounts on top of the significantly reduced funding allocation

Are the Lib Dems also proposing to cut the number of Parish Councillors in Shaw and Saddleworth? Hang on a minute - they are all Lib Dem, that will never do.
How do we get rid of Parish Councils anyway? They are a complete waste of time.

@ernie: I agree completely. Voting for the 'other lot' just means rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

What we need is 60 independent councillors, who can agree and disagree on each individual issue, and not have to pander to political dogma. Isn't going to happen, sadly.

Give examples Bramble !!!!!
Have you tried to go shopping in Oldham recently ?
Have you forgotten how the Logo fiasco made us the laughing stock of the country?
If this lot have won most improved Council they must have been unbelievably bad before. The gritting letter from Mr Parker and Mr McMahon in Wednesdays Chronicle shows exactly what they think of their electorate.First chance you get, vote these clowns out before they completely ruin our town

yes bramble! 2% is the minimum figure that both lib dems and labour propose.

the same 2% which technically council has to give a referendum on.

central government have said that 2% and above the council has to give the public vote on.
and those councils that choose noto ignore the vote will face further cutbacks to the funding in the future.

meaning oldham looses out further and even more rises in the future!

but you obviously didnt read all of the govenments offer on council tax did you.

Do we need themed litter bins, garish turquoise signs for every neighbourhood, new bus stops on which only the logo has changed? Waste everywhere in the borough is profligate but the relentless spending goes on.

Please bear in mind, this rise will not affect those who pay no council tax, ie the guaranteed Labour vote. The national average rise is below 1% yet a struggling nigh third world town like Oldham cops for 3.5%. I fear for those proud working people out there earning minimum wages as surely they will soon be swamped and have no alternative but to take the benefits and be better off financially. Remember, Labour was once the working mans party.

Fedupoldhamer - think you need to read it again as it is any increase in basic rate above 2% requires a referendum so 2% is fine. Try the LCG website and it might make it clear for you
Itslaughable - if that's all you can come up with then they can't be doing too bad? A logo from years ago and shopping? This Council introduced free parking (which the Lib Dems wanted to remove) which has boosted shopping. I appreciate Metrolink works don't help but that's not just an isolated problem in Oldham

I have given examples @Bramble. Where are yours?
So let me give you another. Look into sharing back office functions with another Local Authority. They tried with Rochdale but failed.
As I have said and you have failed to answer, it is all about how councils spend their budgets. Where is the need for £900,000 in a Co-operative fund? It is some kind of Labour slush fund. You clearly support raising our Council Tax. Your argument about protecting frontline services is bankrupt!

It appears obvious that Bramble is on the gravy train. Enjoy it while it lasts. I for one will be voting against this shower the next time I can.

neonisoff you need to add a few others to that list.

new road markings on certain roads that didnt need them, while other roads markings have all but worn away.

wasteful attempts at winning flower awards that actually arent fitting with the nature of the "town".

even when oldham was meant to be the host of the flower competition. did oldham benefit?

well i didnt see any?

Fairbank - what does the failed link with Rochdale prove? Rochdale were involved as well but I don't see you questioning them? Where has the £900k Co-op budget come from? This was £250m and then £250k according to you yesterday! I can understand people disputing what the Council spends money on but you fail to appreciate that last year they did no overspend and they have a balanced budget for the new financial year. They have not overspent, they have made savings to meet the funding shortfall

In addition I do not necessarily support the increase in Council Tax but I understand why they are doing it. The savings they have to find are so astronomical there isn't really many ways they can fund this gap especially as the Government is reducing their Council Tax grant as well as their central funding allocation. I am certainly not on the so called "gravy train" either but am trying to take a rational look at why Council Tax is going up.

Tell the struggling shopkeepers of Oldham that their problems aren't important, Bramble.
2 hours free parking!!! A knee-jerk, panic driven reaction to the eventual dawning that Oldham is becoming a ghost town. Mr McMahon complained that he didn't want a town full of take-aways, bookies and pound shops ! Take what you can get Jim, you're driving the rest away.

As an octogenarian pensioner paying D Council tax I'd like to support the efforts of the Borough Council including the Council tax rise. Your correspondents know that the squeeze on Oldham is a consequence of the reduction of central government funding; part of the posh boys' austerity wheeze.
I would love to see my native town showing the same visual pride as the equivalent sized town on the continent. How a about a pedestrianised boulevard connecting the centre with Alexandra Park?
Albrec.

For once I agree fairbank, the shopkeepers problems are important but I don't see how that bears any resemblance on our discussion? The council has little impact on the NATIONAL decline of the high street, but providing free parking does offer some assistance. You do realise there are problems with shopping in the entire country and not just oldham? Surely even you can't blame Oldham's Labour Council for that???

@Bramble You trot out the classic 'protect front line services' line. That's a real giveaway.

The 'Ah, but it's the precepts' line is also a dead giveaway.

Council spending is apportioned in order to ensure votes are kept, not to ensure best value for those who actually pay.

Oldham Council isn't lean & efficient. it is bloated, inefficient, over buraucratic & utterly wasteful.

Instead of serving the people, those in power serve themselves.

all i can say regards to this carry on is pigs with noses in the trough, shambolic council , shambolic run down town.

@Bramble Those high streets with councils who have watched the trends & taken action to compete are thriving.

I well remember Elain Mclean obfuscating as to why all Oldham was getting was kebab shops.

Does the council stil waste money running a £50k Audi for the elite?

Oldham doesn't need 60 councillors

Prodriver - what do you mean by "give away"? Can you tell me how front line services haven't been protected? Please give some examples of anywhere that has a thriving high street because I would love to know!!! All you do is make random unrelated statements with no substance and no evidence. Typical unconstructive posts used as a moan about the council (and full of spelling mistakes)

@Bramble Read it again. 2% and above requires the referendum. hence why eric pickles says council trying to get increases of 1.99% are just cheating the council tax payers and the system.

that free parking you are harping on about as being one of jims finest hours! rubbish!
who has been suggesting that for the last 4 years?
i think you'll find that was me.
when i suggested it was dismissesd by the liberals and even jim when i had a chat with him.

only properly introduced 3 years too late.

prodriver. i'll lend you a hand.

here's three towns close by where their high street is thriving.

huddersfield. their highstreet has been doing well and thats with a shopping centre being built in the last 12 years too. cheap parking and good public transport.

ashton. doing suprisingly well considering its size. again parking is reasonable. public transport and road links are excellent.

bury. cheap parking and ensured their market thrived. even had a new shopping centre the other year!

There are problems with Oldhams shops Bramble, because they are so difficult to get to now. How many people give up trying and go to Bury, Rochdale, Manchester or the Trafford centre instead?
Did anyone in the Council seriously believe that the tram fiasco would bring people IN to Oldham. All you've done is provided a transport link to better shopping facilities. Not very hard to realise is it?

Until the council publishes the salaries of all employees earning over £25,000 and actually let people see where their money is going, how can you expect to call it a democracy? It is what empire builders do, they create unnecessary management tiers and pay high salaries because they are so important. They are all glorified pen-pushers, you could sack 75% of them and good riddance too. Wake up Oldhamers!

I think that this huge tax rise (tellingly not challenged properly by any of us brain-washed Oldhamers) is a cynical ploy - a huge hike this year so that Liebour can levy a small increase or no increase at all next year, election year!
I agree that the number of council seats should be cut, but that would make little difference to overall spending even though many individual councillors are expensive and not cost-effective.

Johnny - if you don't know what people earn or do, how can you write 75% of them off as being useless? Where in democracy do you have a direct influence on where money is spent? I don't remember being asked by the government how they want to spend or cut funding? Another ridiculous comment about salaries with no knowledge or fact

 

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