Plans for the shape of public services in the face of further austerity has led the man with the purse strings to warn that Harrow Council will be ‘a very different place after these cuts’.
The ruling Labour administration proposes raising council tax by 1.99 per cent as part of its draft town hall budget. The full details, due to be released today (Thursday), outline how the authority intends to make £75million of savings during the next four years.
Council leader David Perry said: “In an ideal world, no council leader would increase any bills or cut services. But with the cut in grants we receive from central government, tough decisions were going to be made no matter who was in charge.
“The real positive for me is that in working on this budget, our consultation got thousands of people involved and identified their priorities. So while we don’t want to ask more from taxpayers, 52 per cent of people who got involved with our Take Part consultation said they wouldn’t be against paying more council tax to fund services that are important to them.”
Councillor Susan Hall, leader of the Conservative group, said: “Harrow residents already pay the third highest council tax in London, and with Labour’s plans to close libraries, children’s centres and charge for bin collections too, the majority of residents will be left wondering what service they’ll actually receive in return for even bigger bills.”
Labour’s budget includes:
- 135 job losses
- council tax increase to raise an extra £854,000
- investment of £715,000 in more social workers
- keeping Harrow Arts Centre open another year while alternatives to closure are considered
- supporting Harrow Museum and Heritage Centre with a £5.5m business plan
- cuts of 40 per cent to charity funding.
Councillor Sachin Shah, cabinet member for finance, said: “There’s no doubt that the council will be a very different place after these cuts.”
Mr Perry and colleagues will recommend the draft budget at next Thursday’s cabinet meeting and the finance plan will considered by the full council in February.