Green Party Councillors strongly feel that the budget proposed by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is inadequate to maintain vital services for the wider community as services for the elderly or disabled would be particularly affected. In order to raise enough revenue to ensure the minimum of what the Green Party regards as necessary their alternative proposal includes a 10% increase in council tax – on average this means £ 76pa above the Tory/LibDem suggestion of a 3.7% rise. A referendum will be needed if the Green Party’s suggestion goes through, but the authors of the proposal believe that the majority of residents can be persuaded as the additional resources will be beneficial to many and are in everyone’s long term interest.
The current council tax rate in York is amongst the lowest in the UK (7th lowest Band D), and a 10% increase will bring it up to an acceptable median level. The proposal would mean that several cuts which have been assessed as likely to cause harm to elderly or disabled residents would be reversed. Since even the Tory led Surrey Council was proposing a 15% increase to protect social care until the government found more money for them, an increase of 10% seems justified and reasonable.
Green Group leader Cllr Andy D’Agorne said “Council services are in crisis at the same time as our NHS, at a point when the number of frail elderly in our community is also rising. As government support for local services tapers to nothing we have to increase our own resilience and adding the price of a cup of tea or a half of beer once a week to our council tax is surely a price worth paying to maintain these vital services.”
Green Group finance spokesperson Cllr Denise Craghill said: “These government funding cuts hit the most vulnerable in our community, and we believe it right that they should be protected, if necessary through a council tax increase above the norm to bring our council tax level up about what is paid in East Riding or North Lincolnshire*. We also propose more support for the financial assistance scheme and other ways to tackle poverty and support those who cant afford council tax payments.”
To look at the wider picture of costs and benefits, there is much more that the Green Party would propose e.g:-
“While the main focus of the Green amendment is on mitigating the savage cuts to social care, we have also included some common sense changes to benefit local residents” said Cllr D’Agorne.
“For instance we propose to reduce the cost of standard residents parking permit to £90 per year (when Tories and Lib Dems plan to increase it to nearly £100), to be paid for from a small increase in city centre parking charges for non residents. We also want to protect owners of small cars from a massive doubling of their annual pass, as Tories and Lib Dems intend to scrap the reduced rate for all but ultra low emission and short vehicles.”
The group say that ultimately they would reduce residents parking permit costs to less than £50pa so that its price was no longer an obstacle to introducing residents parking more widely within terraced streets around the centre of York.
“We have an excellent park and ride service, but too many commuters are still driving into the city and creating headaches for residents by taking spaces all day outside peoples houses and business premises” said Andy
These changes will be proposed as self-funding parts of the Green amendment to the council budget at the Full Council meeting on 23rd February 2017
By Jakob Fichert, Co-Media Officer, YGP