Feb 29 2012 by Liam Murphy, Heswall News
WIRRAL’S Lib Dems have appealed to the Labour group they helped force out of power to back an alternative budget.
The move follows the announcement last week by the newly elected Tory leader of Wirral Council for a 3% cut in council tax this year.
The Lib Dems – who had helped the Tories into power days before that budget announcement – said they disagree with a 3% cut and instead proposed a £30 rebate to every council tax payer – what they call a “People's Dividend”.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Tom Harney said his party agreed with most of the Conservatives’ budget, but added that their plan “would benefit wealthier households more – but in Wirral, nine out of 10 households live in council tax Band A, B, C or D”.
He said: “Under our proposals, households in these council tax bands will pay less council tax than under the Conservative proposals.
“It now appears to be up to Labour to choose.”
But Cllr Steve Foulkes, leader of the Labour group, ridiculed the move by the Liberal Democrats and ruled out voting for their budget.
Cllr Foulkes said he was not surprised the other parties had “already fallen out over their budget proposals”.
Labour had proposed a zero increase in council tax in their budget plan. But this was removed by the other parties when they lost power.
Cllr Foulkes said: “It beggars belief that the Liberal Democrats expect the Labour group to ride in and rescue their proposal.”
He said with the council facing a £78m budget shortfall between 2013 and 2015 both the Tory and Lib Dem plans were “what some might see as a very large election bribe to the voters”.
“There is no way that Labour would countenance voting for either proposal, which we view as totally reprehensible, against the interests of the council and the people of Wirral, and effectively the last desperate throw of the dice for two parties terrified of losing any further seats in local elections.”
Tory leader Jeff Green said he was pleased the Lib Dems supported most of his budget proposals and his “inclusive approach”.
The Conservatives’ budget is due to be presented to a meeting of the full council at Wallasey Town Hall on Thursday, with Labour and Lib Dem amendments also on the table. However under council rules if neither of those amendments is passed the Tory budget will stand without a vote being needed.