Council tax rises 3.5pc

Date published: 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”.