THE THURROCK budget was agreed last night but as usual there was a little bit of drama in the chamber.
In the end, the council agreed to an increase of 1.98 per cent in the council tax.
The initial proposal was for a 1.99 per cent increase. That was voted down, thanks in part to radical Ockendon Labour councillor, Aaron Kiely, joining the 24 Tories, 2 Indeps and 1 UKIP.
There was an adjournment and huddled meetings before the item came to the table again.
Council leader, John Kent proposed an increase of 1.98 or £1,124.65 for a Band D property.
This time, 25 Labour (including cllr Kiely voted it through.
The overall budget was also voted through.
24 Labour voted for the budger, 21 Tories abstained as well as the two Independent East Tilbury councillor and UKIP’s Robert Ray.
Rebel Labour councillor, Aaron Kiely voted against the budget.
Leader of the Council, Cllr John Kent, said: “The budget I am recommending this evening will see Thurrock Council levying the lowest Council Tax of any authority in Essex – householders in Thurrock will be receiving the lowest bills in Essex, by quite some considerable margin.”
He said the budget “will see us continue to rebuild our finances” and “be the first time this council has agreed a balanced budget for two years, rather than the usual annual budget process”.
Cllr Kent explained: “This means we have identified everything necessary for the 2014/15 budget as well as for the next 12 months. Officers and members will therefore know what has to happen, which will ensure this council has the stability and time it needs to plan for and respond to the further funding cuts we know are coming.
“We have come in on or below budget for each of the last two years and will do so again this year. This is, despite delivering £30m of savings.
“We have rebuilt the council’s unallocated reserves to a sustainable level of around £8m, and, last year we received our first ever unqualified Value For Money audit opinion from the Audit Commission – independently demonstrating that the council now provides good services at good value.”
He said: “None of this has been easy to achieve and I want to thank those portfolio holders and officers who have worked so hard and taken the tough decisions that have created this solid platform on which we can build.
“At the same time we have also made significant improvements across a range of our services.
“We have continued to build on our recycling success and now Thurrock is the best performing area in the East of England with less than a quarter of our waste going to landfill.
“Considering this borough’s history, this is an amazing achievement and a great example of how council and residents can work together for the benefit of the community as a whole.
“In planning we have adopted the Local Development Framework Core Strategy which will shape the delivery of the growth-led regeneration here and in transport we were one of only five councils in the country to receive the full £5 million allocation for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.”
He said: “We have also improved the way we engage with local businesses; holding two very successful business conferences, and following them up with a series of business breakfasts, meet-the-buyer events and the establishment of a Thurrock Business Board – all of which has put our relationship with, and support of, business on a strong footing.”
One thing that did go unnoticed last night was the fact the Cllr Charlie Curtis presented a petition about a cafe in Ockendon that has been breaking its lease clause for use for about 10 years, I also believe that an earlier article in the press from Cllr Sue Gray highlighted her support. What do the residents of their own ward Belhus think about this? I seem to remember they were dead against Howard Tennens,even though their residents were in favour, because they wre breaking the law and voted for enforcement against them, yet they seem to think that its ok for the caffe to break the law, infact they seem to be actively encouraging it, are they looking at a seat in Ockendon rather than Belhus?
Si we have a hike of almost 2% on the council tax which possibly could have been avoided if TBC had taken the government grant that was available to keep these rises at bay, why did they not take up the offer.
With high unemployment in the area and people receiving benefits how will these rises affect the amount of money changing hands between departments?
Why did the Tories and the other parties abstain from the final vote rather than showing that they did not accept the budget allowing a clean sweep for the 24 Labour councillors?
To chickenfeed1: It is the residents themselves who have signed the petition to keep the cafe open because it is very popular with them. And you are right, they were against heavy lorries because that was unpopular. It’s called democracy and the residents are entitled to make their views known on issues which affect them.
I think you may have missed my point, in Belhus the residents were with Howard Tennens occupying the site illegally as it helped them, yet the 3 Belhus Councillors voted AGAINST the people who voted for them, yet in another ward at least 2 of them have received a petition from some residents who wish to keep a cafe open who is openly breaking the law, and this tme the Belhus councillors choos to vote with them. My question is i suppose are they upholders of the law,which is why they told their own voters that they could not vote with them, or does the law not matter really and only the headline NOW as they have already made Belhus voters angry? thus i ask are theylooking to switch seats, maybe in place of Cllr Kiely perhaps as they no longer appear to be upholders of the law and agree the people are correct?