Motion planned for forthcoming council meeting
Conservatives in Merton are calling on the council to make a 5% cut in council tax, representing a £55 saving on the average bill.
But the Labour council leader Stephen Alambritis has dismissed their plea as a "joke" and the Lib Dems said it was "cynical".
The Conservative group are raising a motion at the next full council meeting on Wednesday (November 21), calling for new efficiency savings to lower council tax.
Tory leader Debbie Shears (left) said: "Merton Council Tax is already double that of neighbouring Wandsworth yet while hard pressed householders are struggling our Labour run Council has built up more than £20million in the last 2 years alone.
"A 5% council tax cut would make a real difference to Merton residents and we believe such a cut is more than possible without front-line services having to suffer. Instead of stashing away money in reserves, and by bringing in efficiency savings, Labour could save us £55 on a Band D property next year and thereafter."
But Councillor Alambritis (left) said: "I'm sure it must be a joke. They increased the council every year of their administration but they reduced it in the last year, which was a cynical move to win an election. A 5% cut in council tax would mean huge cuts to street cleaning and could mean the closure of Sure Start children’s centres and libraries. That is something we don’t want to see.
"I am astounded at such tactics by the Conservatives. A five per cent cut would devastate the borough. I believe they're drifting away in Merton and cut loose from the real world."
Lib Dem councillor Iain Dysart (right) said: "The Conservative suggestion that Council tax could be cut by 5% is hugely cynical. When they ran Merton between 2006-10 they increased Council tax in the first three years, only to implement a tiny cut to Council tax in the year before the election.
"We've proposed that Merton rejects such grandstanding as 'playing politics' with the budget. It's equally shameful that money is being added Council's reserves to fund pre-election tax brakes when substantial cuts are being made to font-line services.
"In the 2012 budget, Labour refused to use a small part of the borough's reserves to protect voluntary sector organisations and transport services for the elderly and disabled from cuts. That a Labour administration have chosen to make these cuts at the same time as increasing reserves is indefensible."
The former Conservative administration had set aside £3m for the work. The windows have now been declared unfit for purpose, but the cost of replacing them over three years is now £3.2m. The council's cabinet has ruled the work, set to start in spring, must go ahead.
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November 19, 2012