Bexley Labour
Bexley Labour

Bexley’s Labour Group of councillors voted against Bexley Conservatives 5% increase in Council tax at tonight’s council tax setting meeting. The 2023/24 budget includes a 2.99% increase in the share of Bexley’s Council Tax and a 2% increase in the Adult Social Care Precept, a total of 4.99% increase to hard pressed households in Bexley. This follows years of cuts to services and council tax increases, coming at a time of a ‘cost of living’ crisis with rising energy bills, increasing mortgage costs and high inflation.

Cllr. Stefano Borella, Leader of Bexley Labour Group said

Bexley residents are facing another yearly rise in Council tax rise of £76.22 per year on a Band D property in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. This is going to impact on households finances this year, in addition to the fact that fees and charges like the garden waste collection charge will be going up by an eye watering 20%. The government needs to start funding local councils and public services to an adequate level, so they can deal with inflationary pressures.

The scale of the issues facing the council’s finances is demonstrated by the projected revenue budget overspend of £3.197m (as Period 9/December 2022) for 2022/23, which will require the unsustainable use of reserves to balance this year’s budget. In addition, the growing Dedicated Schools Grant deficit as at the end of 2021/22 was £16.336m and is projected to exceed over £18 million by the end of 2022/23.

The amendment moved by Labour Councillors but voted against by every Conservative councillor, would have supported an additional £500,000 investment in the highways resurfacing capital budget and a review of parking charges across the borough to support local businesses. Labour councillors highlighted in the budget debate that not only were these issues a significant concern raised by residents and businesses across the borough regarding the condition of the council’s roads and pavements, but the unfairness that Londoners pay £500 million of road tax yearly, which is spent on maintaining roads in other parts of the country.

Cllr Daniel Francis, Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services said

Since 2010, Councils have lost sixty pence of government funding for every pound they spens and it is clear that the council’s financial position is not sustainable. This is demonstrated with further raids on the council reserves and the lack of capacity in the council to deliver high quality services, like a decent waste collection service that Bexley residents deserve

Cllr Mabel Ogundayo, Shadow Cabinet member for Climate Change, Transport, Environment and Leisure said

Many residents across Bexley have raised concern at the state of the boroughs roads and pavements, yet Bexley Conservatives voted against our amendment increasing this funding to deal with our crumbling roads and pavements. Shockingly they voted against the council investigating innovative solutions like decreasing car parking charges and introducing 1-hour free parking, something local businesses have asked for over many years to help footfall in our town centres.

The Council projects that usage numbers of the Council car parks in 2022/23 will have fallen by 29.8% since 2019/20; and that this position has been exacerbated by the decision to increase car parking charges in the region of 30% in 2021. The Council has not published an annual parking performance report for 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 allowing full analysis of the issues with the Council’s parking department.

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