A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

London Labour Councils lead the way on keeping down Council Tax

Local Government Minister, John Healey MP, is today touring the East London Labour Boroughs who are freezing their council tax for the next year.

Labour boroughs have recognised the tough times their residents are facing and are providing real help now by keeping council tax low.

Three Labour boroughs are freezing council tax completely for next year; Hackney where I'm a councillor, Newham and Greenwich. Hackney is freezing its tax for the fourth successive year and Newham now has the lowest council tax in outer London.

Hackney Labour's four years of freezes mean that residents in Band D are £256.03 better off than if we had increased it by the London average in each of the last three years and by 2.5% this year.

We've done this while investing in services, whilst Tory councils in London have been slashing and burning public services at a time when people need them most.

Promoted by Luke Akehurst of Flat 1, 8 Beatty Road, London, N16 8EB on behalf of Louisa Thomson of 81A Farleigh Road, London, N16 7TD. Hosted (printed) by Blogger.com (Google Inc) of 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043 who are not responsible for any of the contents of this post.


Anonymous Bill said...

Boring and bollocks

11:04 am, January 21, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Labour euphemism.

"Services" really equals useless jobs for useless individuals who pay union fees which support the Labour Party.

In other words, a tax, and a higly regressive one.

11:30 am, January 21, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Actually services = schools, nurseries, child protection, meals on wheels, care for the elderly and disabled, libraries, parks, leisure centres, council housing, street cleaning, recycling, roads, street lights, licensing, planning, CCTV and other crime prevention measures.

Presumably you think teachers, social workers and street cleaners are "useless". I'd like to know what job you do that is more useful than those, but as you have chosen to post anonymously we can't tell.

Factually you are not correct to say that council staff support Labour through union fees. A big slice of the union members in local government don't financially support the Labour Party because the ex-NALGO section of UNISON constitutes UNISON's non-affiliated political fund - i.e. is not affiliated to Labour.

11:39 am, January 21, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

is there local elections coming up in the next year i bet there are

11:39 am, January 21, 2009

Anonymous Tim said...

32 councils, plus the City Corporation, and only three Labour councils manage to freeze coucil tax. At the rate inflation is falling I expect at least a 5% cut next year.

That won't happen though as 25% of our council tax goes to pay the pensions of council employees. For those in the private sector best to look up the word pension in a dictionary.

12:25 pm, January 21, 2009

Anonymous Jules said...

Services in Hackney do not equal schools - you were so shit at running them that they were taken out of your control.

12:26 pm, January 21, 2009

Anonymous dogstarscribe said...

Give John Healey my regards but beware of DCLG ministers bearing gifts. Blyth Valley did something similar in terms of freezing council tax while delivering excellent services - John Healey's response was to abolish us....

12:30 pm, January 21, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

"Jules" -

you are correct that when Hackney was a hung council, before Labour took back control, our education service was arms lengthed to the Learning Trust because it was rubbish. We (Hackney Labour)supported that decision by Blunkett. It has proven to be a good one given the improvement in Hackney schools.

But the council is still the LEA, still provides all the cash and is still politically accountable to the voters of Hackney for the service. It remains just as much a council service as if we had out-sourced delivery to the private sector.

My point above was about what services does CT pay for. In Hackney just as anywhere else one of the services funded is schools.

My guess is that the council's improved performance is likely to lead to the service coming back in-house when the Learning Trust contract ends.

1:20 pm, January 21, 2009

Blogger jdc said...

"is there local elections coming up in the next year i bet there are"

Not in London, no.

2:02 pm, January 21, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

And there certainly weren't in the previous 2 years when we froze CT in Hackney.

3:22 pm, January 21, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke - by all means be pleased, well done. But don't forget that there are Labour councillors who would like to cut or freeze council tax, but just can't because of the financial situation we find ourselves in. My council is making £5.7m in cuts (of a budget of £28m) alongside a council tax rise of 5% (or near as dammit) to fill the hole created by a dreadful concessionary fares settlement that redistributes money from mixed-income urban residents to high-income rural residents, Iceland, income pressure from the credit crunch, interest rate falls, and a £1.2m gap left us by the previous administration. I wish John Healey would think a little more about councils outside the big cities and London.

9:19 pm, January 21, 2009

Anonymous Iain Coleman said...

A few years ago, South Cambridgeshire District Council tried a similar strategy. It led to a financial disaster, and it was local residents who had to bear the consequences. My strong advice is that you get some of your people to go and talk to some of their people. Seriously.

12:36 am, January 22, 2009

Blogger Newmania said...

Presumably you think teachers, social workers and street cleaners are "useless".

Well I wouldn't go quiet as far as that but over paid inefficient indifferent to the people who pay for them who, according to you , are actually less useful by virtue or having to make aliving in the real,world
That my friend is the tail wagging the dog.
On the unions broadly speaking we do have a problem when the whole public sector is unionised , few others are and they openly barter for policies for cash .
This means the rest of us are screwed which , when you look at pensions pay security of tenure and pay rises over the last ten years is pretty fucking obvious .
Still a wish to cut back on the parasites is a good thing and I applaud this conversion to having some repsect for the 'comparitively irrelevant' tax payer. It must be an easy thing to lose in a Borough that relies on other areas to subsidise it and would sink like a stone if it had to pay its way

What with a sensible view of the ME toboot, Luke , you are coming along nicely . You are welcome to talk to me about "Making the change"

Good work , lets keep up the momentum

1:09 am, January 22, 2009

Anonymous Shambolic said...

Actually services = luxury junket trips to Beijing for the Mayor and his cohorts, a Council paper that is nothing better than a sycophantic fanzine for our Mayor, freebie trips to Arizona for Head teachers to "study" poverty, the sell-off of much needed accommodation for elderly residents (to finance the plush new facilities for staff), the sell-off (i.e. ALMO) of council housing, the destruction of leisure facilities (such as our football pitches on Hackney Marshes), the use of council facilities (the press office) to carry out personal vendettas against residents who go off-message, the destruction of our much loved street markets

I'm not saying the Tories or LibDems would perform any better but why not (as Party Whip) allow Labour councillors to express dissent and permit open debate? Here in Hackney it feels like we are living in a one Party state (with no effective opposition or debate). Little wonder so many people feel apathetic about politics, particularly local politics.

1:54 am, January 22, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've often been mindful of the fact that generally speaking, parties who dominate certain constituencies (whether that be at a local, national or european level) tend to treat their constituents rather poorly since the likelihood of losing is greatly reduced.

While I do not for a second believe London Labour Councils are 'leading the way' (lowest Council Tax rates happen to be in Conservative boroughs but hey ho), I also find it hard to believe that 'keeping down Council Tax' is nothing more than a political show and isn't financially achievable.

I recall the Labour-Lib Dem controlled Council of Harlow up until May last year, when in a desperate attempt to maintain their electability they halted the rise of Council Tax. Tories take over and find whacking big deficits in the Councils finances.

I have nothing against 'tax-and-spend' provided your 'spend' doesn't exceed your 'tax' and provided it is justified.

The moral of this blog post is 'Beware what lurks beneath the spin of "London Labour Councils lead the way on keeping down Council Tax"'. It might be dodgy accounting on behalf of Lab councillors or it might be sheer stupidity. Time will tell.

5:06 pm, January 22, 2009

Anonymous Rich said...

Services are the back bone of the country, but they must be services that add value to the whole community and not just sections of it.

Cheap transport, cheap access to leisure facilities that is comparable with the private sector, free evening education for adults and young people...whether it be photography....flower arranging....as long as it is in demand. Climbing walls, sailing, diving etc etc etc

There are so many services that people pay for privately that could so easily be provided cheaper and better by our local councils....why have these things stopped yet we are paying record sums in council tax.

7:42 pm, January 22, 2009


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