Tory's rival budget plan for Newcastle Borough Council is thrown out
AN alternative budget aimed at funding a tax break by charging council staff to park at work was defeated last night.
Newcastle Borough Council ruling Labour group approved a zero per cent tax increase on its budget last night.
The borough council has set a budget of £13,169,360 over the coming year – which allows for net expenditure of £14,118,640, with the difference covered by the Government's £949,280 support grant to authorities which freeze council tax.
But the budget was challenged by Newcastle's Conservative group, which proposed reducing the council tax bill by one per cent and clawing money back by charging the council's 500 staff to park.
The Conservatives hoped to raise £110,000-a-year by charging each employee £1.50 a day to park in allocated spaces. Under the plan, councillors would have also had to pay to park to raise £5,000 over a year.
In addition to reducing council tax, the Tories hoped to cancel the planned increase in fees and parking charges to Jubilee 2 customers to raise £25,000.
Councillor Ashley Howells, who seconded the alternative budget, said: "There are low paid retail workers who have to pay for parking, we see no reason why council workers should be subsidised on a publicly owned asset."
But Councillor Mike Stubbs, cabinet member for budget and finance, said it was unreasonable to expect staff to pay to park.
He added: "We have pledged not to increase council tax because we know residents are struggling and we don't want to add to their burden."
Councillor Sandra Hambleton said: "To charge our staff for parking their cars is appalling."
The council tax freeze means owners of an average Band D property will continue to pay £176.93 over the next year. The freeze comes after Staffordshire Police Authority, Staffordshire Fire Authority and Staffordshire County Council all voted against increasing their precepts.
Final tax bills for an average property will add up to £1,450.99, which includes £1,028.81 demanded by the county council, £67.64 to police and £177.61 to the fire service. That figure does not include the amount asked for by parish councils.
The borough council needs to make £2.1 million savings in its next budget and £8.3 million over the next five years.