Islington’s council tax debate debacle

The dramatic Islington council budget meeting – and shock council tax rise from Labour – continue to make the news.

There’s coverage in the Islington Gazette, the Tribune, the Evening Standard, and a thoughtful analysis on Jeremy Hargreaves’ blog.

Meanwhile I’ve received this message from Council leader James Kempton:

“I am writing to inform you that Labour councillors blocked our Liberal Democrat proposals to freeze the council tax this year. At last night’s council meeting to set Islington’s 2009 budget, they imposed a 2.5% rise on hard pressed Islington residents struggling through the recession, which is the highest council tax rise anywhere in inner London.

“My colleagues and I have been speaking to hundreds of local residents over the past few weeks who have backed our campaign against the council tax going up. Hundreds of people have signed our petition and written letters of support.

“I am very sorry that Labour cynically took advantage of the absence of one of our Liberal Democrat councillors who was rushed to hospital for an emergency procedure to push through this unwelcome tax rise.

“Liberal Democrats have kept our promise every year to keep council tax below the London average, and residents trust us to keep bills low whilst improving services. But Labour doesn’t care about residents except wanting to keep their hands on more of their hard earned cash.

“As if Gordon Brown hasn’t done enough damage, here we have Labour rubbing salt in the wound, squeezing more money out of hard pressed residents who are already suffering from the worst recession in 100 years

“In the council meeting last night, Labour councillors were calling each other “comrades.” It was just like ten years ago, when the then Labour council saddled residents with the highest council tax in London . Labour’s council tax hike shows what would happen if Labour ever took back control of the council again.

“If you haven’t done so already please sign our petition at http://campaigns.libdems.org.uk/dontraiseourcounciltax to show your support for this campaign, and to send a message to Labour that they are not listening to the wishes of the people of Islington.”

3 Comments »

  1. David said

    That’s funny, it says here http://www.thecnj.co.uk/islington/2009/022709/inews022709_01.html that your councillors supported an increase in tax at the meeting itself, when you did some kind of deal with the green party… After all your campaigning for a tax freeze, it must be embarrassing that your council colleagues didn’t support it.

  2. bridgetfox said

    Thank you for your comment. I think however you’ve misunderstood the situation. My understanding is that Lib Dems did propose the council tax freeze but not having an overall majority were willing to do a deal with the lone Green councillor to get a more acceptable budget than that proposed by the Labour group.

    Councillors were actually negotiating on the night and during the meeting: if they could get the council tax
    freeze through, they would have done.

    Of course with the hospitalisation of Cllr Donna Boffa, and I have since learned, another councillor being taken ill during the meeting, this all became academic, as Labour had a (temporary) majority.

    It’s worth noting that if the Lib Dem/Green compromise had got through, the council tax rise would have been half what Labour voted through.

    I honestly think that putting up people’s council tax to pay for universal school meals is wrong, given the unfair nature of the council tax and the growing numbers of middle-class families using Islington’s primary schools. It’s Robin Hood in reverse. What’s your view on that?

  3. Mark Pack said

    Some Labour gloating quotes in the press are to be expected in the circumstances, but what a shame that I haven’t seen one wishing Donna Boffa a speedy recovery.

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