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Rivals clash over Council Tax claims

PUBLISHED: 16:55 04 March 2010 | UPDATED: 14:55 24 August 2010

A POLITICAL row has broken out after claims that the borough s Labour group voted against a Council Tax freeze has been vehmently denied by them. According to the Lib Dems, Cllr Ann John, Labour opposition leader, tried to veto the proposals which are p

A POLITICAL row has broken out after claims that the borough's Labour group voted against a Council Tax freeze has been vehmently denied by them.

According to the Lib Dems, Cllr Ann John, Labour opposition leader, tried to veto the proposals which are part of the council's budget plans.

At the budget meeting, which took place on Monday, the Lib-Dem/Tory coalition led Brent Council announced their pledge to freeze Council Tax saying they would increase investment in services through efficiency savings.

However the Labour group voted against the budget plan, tabling an amendment of proposals including free parking in council car parks, scrapping bulky refuse collection charges, increasing funding for multi use games areas and advice agencies, and repairing potholes in the borough, which the Lib Dems claim will cost taxpayers an extra £2million.

Cllr Daniel Brown, Deputy group leader for the Lib Dems, said: "The Labour group is deeply out of touch with local people.

"It is appalling that at a time when residents across Brent are feeling the pinch Labour were proposing that a £2 million tax bombshell be saddled around everybody's necks.

"Brent Labour's £2m tax bombshell would hit those most vulnerable in the borough the hardest. It seems that everybody is aware of the deeply troubling financial climate except Brent Labour."

The Labour group hit back at the criticism, saying that they made clear in their budget amendment that extra spending would come from existing resources and from cutting the council consultancy budget by £1.5m

Hotly rebuking suggestions that she was against a Council Tax freeze, Cllr John said: "Labour is committed to a Council Tax freeze and the Labour Government has provided the extra resources for that purpose.

"Our Labour budget proposed to cut spending on consultants and spend the money on repairing pot holes and broken pavements.

"We did not propose any increase in Council Tax."

However Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of the council, insists the Labour group did. He said: "I've been around for more than 20 years and even when the Lib Dems were just down to three councillors we have always presented the council with an alternative budget, so for the last 28 years there's always been a Lib Dem proposal.

"So I'm amazed that Labour with their remaining 19 people, are so incapable that they can't actually put in a total budget package as they failed to do yesterday.

"The fact that they actually voted against the freeze in council tax in the present climate is just beyond me.

"I feel that by failing to propose a proper budget they're letting people down, and showing how unsuitable they are to represent their constituents and the people of Brent generally.

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