'No tax rises or frontline cuts' Monmouthshire leaders' pledge
LEADERS of Monmouthshire council pledged not to cut frontline services or raise council tax at yesterday's cabinet meeting.
The final budget for 2013/14 - which will be debated and voted on at a full council meeting on February 28 - outlines savings of £4.3 million, to be paid for by raising the cost of all council services by 2.5 per cent.
Plans to charge for car parking across Monmouthshire, raising £100,000, have been dropped and a scheme of charging for green waste has been put on hold.
Cabinet member for finance Phil Murphy said that by redesigning services, increasing costs to the public, halving the number of desks and buildings being used by council staff, reassigning qualified staff to do jobs currently done by outside agencies and "inventing more ways of earning money", the council will save the £4.3 million necessary to balance its budget.
We asked for specific examples from Cllr Murphy of the types of services where costs to the public would rise but did not receive any.
Robert Greenland, deputy leader, said other local authorities were having to sell islands to make savings, while council leader Peter Fox said he had "absolute confidence that the budget will be delivered".
Leader of the opposition Labour party Roger Harris said his party would "keep its powder dry" and would not reveal its criticisms of the budget until February 28, while leader of the Independents Simon Howarth said he "did not like" the budget and said his party may not bring its criticisms forward until the meeting of full council.
Cllr Fox said that would make a farce of the consultation process, while Cllr Greenland said: "Given the process of consultation, to just play party politics is appalling."
Cabinet members voted to approve the budget, which will be discussed again at full council on February 28.