In his regular blog for Caerphilly Observer, Caerphilly Council leader Lindsay Whittle gives his take on recent news.
I’d like to issue an apology to Labour politicians, particularly the local AM and MP, for Caerphilly County Borough Council’s decision not to increase council tax.
They’ve been very critical of the Plaid-run authority for not asking the public to pay more over the next 12 months and planning to freeze bills next year.
Perhaps in hindsight they may be right – they clearly think people in the county borough should pay more on one of their biggest household bills. Perhaps, it doesn’t matter to them that many individuals and families are struggling to make ends meet. Jobs are being lost, pay is being frozen or cut and bills for food, fuel and energy are rising.
Of course, Labour has a proud record of increasing council tax bills when in control of Caerphilly council – they’ve put them up by an average of 5.68% since 1998 while the figure has been 3.59 per cent under Plaid.
In fact, on a Band D rate Labour increased bills by £136 over four years when they were last in control. While in the last three years when Plaid has sent bills out the rise has been just £45.34 – almost £100 less. And as mentioned earlier ,Plaid is also aiming to freeze council tax in 2012-13.
I’m certain we made the right decision at this difficult time. And, of course, unlike Labour-run Rhondda Cynon Taf council we’ve not cut workers’ pay and put up council tax by three per cent. The Caerphilly AM has been remarkably silent about the actions of RCT – can Caerphilly Observer readers imagine what he would have said if Plaid-run Caerphilly had done the same?
But the difficult economic situation, caused in part by Labour’s failure to regulate the banks properly, has not stopped the authority spearheading many initiatives.
Major regeneration is taking place at Bargoed and in Caerphilly Town, new schools are being built and we are creating 100 apprenticeships and training posts for young people over the next three years – a sign of our strong commitment to the future.
I’m proud of leading an authority that has imposed the lowest council tax increase in Wales for three years running – while also freezing councillors’ allowances. Incidentally, all Labour councils in England have agreed a voluntary freeze on council tax.
So perhaps residents deserve a belated apology from Labour politicians in Caerphilly for the level of council tax increases they’ve imposed in the past.
Plaid Cymru leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council