Wandsworth Dismiss Report Of 44% Tax Rise Plan

Wandsworth Council hits back

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Claims in last night’s Evening Standard that Wandsworth Council has plans for huge Council Tax increases, if the borough is unable to make £55 million cuts over four years, have been slammed by the Council.
Deputy leader Maurice Heaster, who is also the council's cabinet member for finance, has called on the newspaper to print a letter he has written setting out the true position and described their report as "absolutely ludicrous and frankly absurd".
Cllr Heaster says: "The reporter who compiled this article was repeatedly told that he was barking up the wrong tree and that the claims he was making and the conclusions he was reaching were utterly wrong.

The Standard claims that opposition Labour politicians have said that an increase in Council Tax is inevitable, and that the Council has only identified a small portion of the £28 million savings it needs to make this year after government grant cuts.

A local government expert from the London School of Economics is also quoted as saying that Tory ‘easyCouncils’, such as Wandsworth, could struggle to find cuts as they run such minimalist local government models.

Cllr Heaster says: "Wandsworth's current Band D bill of £682 is comprised of £372 for all our services and £310 for the Mayor and GLA. The idea that our element of the bill would be virtually doubled next year is quite ridiculous. It would also under current Government rules not be lawful.

"It is of course no secret that the council, like every other public organisation the length and breadth of the country, is facing difficult economic circumstances.

"However, we remain totally committed to being a low tax authority and will not flinch from taking the necessary tough decisions over the coming months and years to spare our residents the burden of high tax bills."

March 23rd, 2011