The decision by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) to freeze the council tax for 2011/2012 at the same level as 2010/2011, is a, “welcome and sensible Coalition policy”, said local borough and county councillor, Robin Parker, speaking after the decision making meeting at County Hall on 18 February.
The Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government has recognised that it is important for local councils to ease the burden on hard pressed council taxpayers. That is why they told local councils that, if they froze the council tax, the government would provide them with extra government grant equivalent to a 2.5% increase. It is a sensible and very welcome move and the Liberal Democrats are pleased that HCC has decided to take advantage of the offer.
The Liberal Democrat group at HCC are not satisfied with some other aspects of the Conservative majority HCC budget, however”, he continued. “In particular, greater savings could have been made in communications and public relations, where 17 staff are still employed, churning out largely unnecessary press releases on locality budgets and the propaganda magazine Horizon. The county council should be investing more to save in highways maintenance and reducing some of the bureaucracy involved in the inefficient highways operation. Sharing of services with other authorities, to cut costs, has not yet gone far enough or deep enough: legal, planning, Human Resources and IT could all be shared services. And the future of the (expensive) County Hall building has yet to be tackled.
This is why the Liberal Democrat group abstained on the composite budget resolution this year. We could not support continued inefficiencies but we support the council tax freeze.
Labour voted against the composite budget resolution including the council tax freeze.