Letter to the Editor: Council Services are Valued

Dear Editor

As the County Council Elections approach, it is worth remembering that council services are highly valued. Try hacking Social Care, attacking schools, reducing library staffing or leisure centre hours – and the protests erupt. Actually all these attacks HAVE been perpetrated over the last four years by Shropshire’s slash-and-burn Tories.

These services need paying for. In a sparse area like rural Shropshire they can be expensive and Governments are not keen to recognise this. But ask the public – as Lib Dem – led South Shropshire Council did – and they will support worthwhile services.

This is by way of responding to the Conservatives’ only election cry “  We keep Council Tax down! – what an inspiring vision” – which is both injurious to residents – and UNTRUE.

In the Coalition Council of 2001-05 I was Lib Dem leader,   we had to face up to this. To develop keenly – sought service improvements AND plug the gap left by harsh government under-funding, we had to increase council tax a lot – although not much different from counties average. That sound budget led to a step change in public services. It proved robust enough to keep things on an even keel until 2009, when Keith Barrow’s Tories took office.

Needless to say our Council Tax increases were attacked by the Tories but THEY NEVER reduced it once they got power in 2005. They promised to reverse our increase: but they didn’t. They promised to reduce Council Tax: but in fact increased it each year (except election year, of course). You cannot believe Tory promises!

In recent years, the Coalition Government has provided extra cash to keep Council Tax frozen. The Tory minister, Eric Pickles, advised councils’ not to hoard away reserves but to maintain services. Cllr Barrow and crew are piling up £40m into reserves at the same time as they fire hundreds of staff ; ration social care ;cut library staffing and leisure centres; close our small schools….etc…etc..

In sum, the callous dismantling of council services in Shropshire.

The Conservatives have lied year on year over Council Tax – their only policy – and about the impact on the residents of Shropshire.

Check what your Council  Tax  SHOULD  be if the Tories had kept their promises to (a) cut out all rises we made in 2001-05; (b) not to increase council tax in the years since  they’ve  been in power. IS your band D down at £600 or something?! Not much!

 

Yours

Peter Phillips, Shropshire Lib Dem Leader 1999-2009

Deputy Leader SCC 2001-2005

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