Opposition leaders have given their thoughts to the Peterborough City Council’s budget proposals.
For the second year running Peterborough residents are being asked to pay an extra five per cent in council tax to support the cash-strapped city council.
The first set of proposals for the authority’s 2018/19 budget include the steep rise - with three per cent ringfenced for adult social care - which will cost the average council tax payer an extra £48 annually.
Council leader Cllr John Holdich warned the council was facing “the most challenging circumstances it has ever faced” with a near £19 million deficit due to government cuts and rising service demands.
But he added: “We will continue to invest in the city and deliver a range of services. We’ll do this by developing new ways of generating income, bidding for external funding, delivering services more innovatively, and continuing to promote the city to businesses.”
Budget policies include putting on hold the new Peterborough Lottery and clamping down on verge and pavement parking. The second set of budget proposals, which will clear most of the deficit, will be released in early January.
Labour group leader Cllr Ed Murphy said: “The budget is in crisis with whole services in jeopardy and we have a housing emergency in Peterborough.”
Cllr Murphy said Labour is working on its alternative budget which will be published at a future date.
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Nick Sandford questioned previous decisions to hand over services to the private sector. He added: “It’s undoubtedly true that Peterborough’s Tory-controlled council gets a raw deal from the Tory government.
“Difficult decisions will need to be made and lower priority services may have to be cut to protect those which are most important.”
Werrington First group leader Cllr Steve Lane said the council “has made extraordinary efforts to balance the books in the face of a relentless slashing of Government funding.” He added: “All I ask is that we maintain a focus on the protection of people who are most in need.”
UKIP’s John Whitby said: “The council has been preforming financial juggling for the last couple of years to keep the budget balanced, and in this has been pretty successful.” But he added: “External pressures, especially from government, are simply horrendous.”