Thursday, 1 March 2012

Council tax cut again

Greenhalgh: likes the number 3
3.75% has again been lopped off your council tax bill following another stormy meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall last night. This leaves our local authority operating at the third lowest council tax level in the UK and is something leader Stephen Greenhalgh, speaking in at his sixth and last budget meeting as leader, will be proud of having achieved.

Something he will be less keen to talk about will be the further cuts to services that were agreed as part of that settlement. More on that later.

Somewhat strangely the Labour opposition councillors abstained rather than voting against the budget - which might reflect the difficulty of opposing cuts that your own party would probably be introducing if it was in power.

Critics will point out that all of this cutting comes at a cost - primarily to some of the voluntary sector and public services that now no longer exist in the borough, or which are now provided at a cost that some people can't afford. But others will point out that in a recession hobbling people with tax bills is a foolish way to try and stimulate growth in the local economy, and I remain for all my criticisms of Stephen Greenhalgh impressed by the vision for local government he set out at this meeting I attended in Manchester last year - it was about local authorities freed from central control and acting as a catalyst for that growth by flexibly responding to unique local circumstances, borough by borough rather than a one size fits all approach.

Wherever you stand you'll be paying a bit less for your local authority next year - and I doubt anyone in their heart of hearts really minds that.

FRIDAY UPDATE - Those of you that read the Evening Standard may have noticed a little letter in there this evening about this story. Here it is - click the image to read it:

 MONDAY 12TH MARCH UPDATE - Local Top Tory Harry Phibbs has hit back at my portrayal of our Council on the same letters page this evening - and in the interests of balance I publish it here too, courtesy of the reader who helpfully sent it in! 


  1. Ah, the old quid pro quo: cut Council Tax and front load other charges like parking and force people to pay for things that other councils provide for free. The people that will really suffer are those on low to middle incomes and those receiving benefits. The rich, on the other hand, don't use any services and will notice no change whatsoever.

  2. If this isn't ideology, what is it, when Hammersmith Tories cut more than £15 for every £11 demanded by the government? Why are services for women and children the first in line?

  3. I would much prefer Mr Greenhalgh had his salary cut by 3.75%, instead of the pay rises he awarded himself, whilst his employees are on a wage freeze.