Councillors reject opposition plans
A motion to cut council tax in Merton by 5%, saving £55 on the average bill, was rejected by councillors on Wednesday (November 21).
The Labour council leader Stephen Alambritis had dismissed their motion as a "joke" and the Lib Dems said it was "cynical".
The Conservative group said new efficiency savings would enable the borough council to lower council tax.
But at the full council meeting, the proposals were dismissed as unfounded and not prudent given the current financial situation.
Labour, Conservative and Merton Park Residents Association councillors also rejected a Lib Dem proposal that would have prevented the Council administration adding more money into reserves at the same time as making cuts to services this year.
Conservative Finance Spokesman, Councillor Suzanne Grocott, said afterwards: "The truth is, Labour don't care that residents are struggling as a result of the economic mess they got us in to. They are slashing services for the vulnerable in Merton whilst stashing millions of pounds of our residents' hard-earned cash into the bank – for what purpose we don't know.
"Conservative councillors have repeatedly highlighted a number of efficiencies that could be delivered without affecting frontline services but Labour refuse even to look at these. Instead they continue to underspend their own budget by millions of pounds each year, which means residents are consistently paying more for services than they actually cost to deliver.
"Merton’s taxpayers deserve better. That's why Conservatives are committed to ensuring residents keep more of the money, which is rightfully theirs, in the form of a sustainable Council Tax cut.”
Speaking at the meeting, the Merton Conservatives' Leader Councillor Debbie Shears promised that if the Conservatives win the 2014 local elections, a "swift and significant" council tax cut would be one of her top priorities.
But Lib Dem councillor Iain Dysart said: "It was quite right for the Government to incentivise Councils to freeze Council tax to help residents. But the Council must also protect services, particularly those relied on by the most vulnerable in our borough. This Conservative motion does not explain how it could cut 5% from Council Tax without damaging services."
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November 26, 2012