IslingtonTribune

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Islington council tax bills set to rise again

Town Hall criticised for increasing the cost of cycle parking amid climate crisis

10 January, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Cllr Richard Watts

COUNCIL tax in Islington is set to rise again by the maximum amount open to the Town Hall.

Unveiling their budget plans this week, Labour council chiefs confirmed that the average household bill in the borough will cost an extra £46.80 a year.

This will come as a 1.99 per cent increase on the basic rate and a 2 per cent precept to pay for adult social care services to cater for escalating need.

The council has defended this move saying that it was forced on them as a further £4million of cuts have been ordered by central government.

Cllr Andy Hull, the council’s finance chief, said: “Despite having to make savings of almost £250million over the last 10 years because of continuing government cuts to local councils, we’re determined to do everything we can to make Islington a fairer place.”

About £60million has been earmarked to build new council homes, while an extra £700,000 will help roll-out the council’s plans to force a majority of the borough’s landlords to obtain a licence that dictates housing standards.

Cllr Andy Hull

The council has also pledged to expand it’s Schools Streets programme – where cars are fined if they drive down roads outside schools during term time – from 13 to 30 primary schools.

But opposition parties say the overall budget “undermines” the Town Hall’s “green credentials” and shows a “lack of ambition” when it comes to the “climate emergency”.

Both Green and Liberal Democrat Party representatives have lined up to criticise the budget proposals released by the Labour-run council on Wednesday saying there are “stupid increases” which include further charges for residents who want to park their bikes in hangers.

Green Party councillor Caroline Russell criticised the council for bumping up the cost of renting a bicycle parking space up to £105 a year.

The council declared a climate emergency last year. Cllr Russell said: “I am really disappointed by the lack of ambition when it comes to the climate emergency.

Cllr Caroline Russell

“This is a council that is giving Teslas free parking, whilst hiking up prices for cycle parking to above £105 a year. It should never be cheaper to park a car than a bike especially in a borough that has declared a climate emergency.”

Former Liberal Democrat council leader Terry Stacy said: “There are some stupid increases in the budget such as the cycle parking increases above inflation. This undermines the council’s green credentials.

“I am worried about the council’s ability to deliver projects on time and more importantly within budget. Take the Bunhill 2 scheme for instance, it’s more than £6million over budget. Will we ever know what went wrong here as the Labour lead member who was responsible has disappeared off to Westminster.”

Islington’s former environment chief, Claudia Webbe, won the Leicester East seat in the general election last month.

Council leader Richard Watts said: “Usually for these announcements, we are talking about a tale of misery, not so on this occasion.

The cuts haven’t stopped, austerity is not over, effectively £4million of cuts is being handed to us this year, with permission to raise council tax to offset that.

“However, because of good management, we are in a position now to make some really important investments that are needed in the borough which we are very proud of.”

He added that central government needed to back local councils to fund green initiatives.

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