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York Council Criticised On Amount Of Council Tax Being Spent On Debt


8:05am 6th November 2013

The amount of council tax in York being spent on the city's debt is being criticised.

Each person in the city is said to be paying £36 a year in interest on the council's loans, compared to £28 the year before Labour took office.

Opposition Conservatives, who got hold of the figures, say the cash is being wasted on things like 20-mile an hour zones and the controversial arts barge project.

Conservative Leader Cllr. Ian Gillies, who obtained the figures, said “Whilst borrowing is always an option and on occasions a necessity, much of this increase represents spend on Labour Party polices and vanity projects  which bring no tangible benefits to York.

“Borrowed money is being spent on the blanket 20 mph programme which few residents support, the famous arts barge, the increase in staff in the Chief Executive’s directorate and now a half million pounds for a so-called ‘transformation programme’ which by rights should be part of officers’ day jobs.

“Increased interest payments come out of the revenue budget, and this means less money is available for spending on core services such as emptying green bins, gritting roads and filling potholes- the very services residents assume they are paying for with their council taxes.

“Nationally the Government is attempting to reduce borrowing following Labour’s  mishandling of the economy, but in York we have Cllr. Alexander still singing the same old Labour tune, running his administration on  borrowed money to fund his party’s ‘wish-list”.  We think residents want value for money and sometimes that means shelving the ‘nice to have’ in favour of basic services which benefit all of York’s residents.”

York's ruling Labour group have hit back saying they're investing in the economy and on projects which will ultimately save taxpayers money.

Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Customer Service, Cllr. Dafydd Williams said:

“Apart from being confused about the year in which Labour won a majority to run the council, Coun. Gillies has conflated the debt figures of our administration with those of the previous Liberal Democrat-Conservative administration of which his party was part.  It in fact added some £60m to the council’s debt position shortly before leaving office.

“Subsequent to that Labour has invested, notably through the Economic Infrastructure Fund, in the local economy in a way that will see further private sector investment made in the city.  A significant proportion of the money we have borrowed has been on an invest to save basis, so with no impact on the local taxpayer.  This shows that as well as investing in the city’s future we are finding ways of being more efficient”.

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