Responding to news that both Blaenau Gwent (0% Council Tax increase instead of proposed 4%) and Ceredigion (2.5% not 4.75%) Councils have been able to reduce the financial burden on their residents in 2022/23 by using newly-arrived additional funding from the Welsh Government to amend planned Council Tax increases Powys County Council’s Welsh Liberal Democrat Group has said it would be unacceptable if Powys Councillors were not given the same opportunity. The ruling Independent/Conservative coalition Cabinet has proposed a 3.9% Council Tax increase for Powys.
“Last Autumn, the Powys Conservative group successfully promoted a Motion proposed by one of its lead members, Cllr Iain McIntosh, to change the Council’s rules to force all proposed Motions to be costed before they can be debated. As a direct consequence, the Council’s Constitution was amended and a formal timetable set for proposing alternative Council Budgets. The change was designed to limit Motions being brought forward by Opposition members, but now it means the Cabinet cannot bring forward an amendment to its Budget motion on Thursday (24th Feb),” commented group leader and Leader of the Opposition, Cllr James Gibson-Watt, (Lib Dem- Glasbury).
“We warned at the time the motion was poorly thought through and would have unintended consequences, but even we failed to imagine that the first victims of the new rules would be the ruling Coalition groups and even worse the residents of Powys.”
“As Councillors, we know the Budget before us is out of date, we know a lower Council Tax increase is possible. Other councils have done it. On that basis, and without all the other reasons to oppose these plans, every Councillor should take this opportunity to oppose the current Budget when we debate it on Thursday.”
“We all know what defeating the Budget Motion means, we’ve been here before. If the Cabinet’s current Budget proposal, based on a 3.9% Council Tax increase, is defeated, we will reconvene a week later with another option in front of us and there is a good chance that that will fail too, given the instability evident in the Independent/Conservative coalition.”
“As a responsible largest Opposition group we have an alternative suggestion. This evening I am writing to all Group Leaders and the Chair of Council informing them that if the Cabinet wish to present an alternative set of budget proposals before 1900hrs on Wed 23rd February we will move a “Motion Without Notice” at Thursday’s meeting to suspend standing order 188.8.131.52. to enable new proposals to be debated. This will allow Members to debate a Budget based on the final Welsh Government funding settlement figures and give the Cabinet two genuine chances to persuade Council Members that there is a viable Budget that can achieve majority support.”