Cotswold District Council approved their 2021-22 budget, despite strong opposition from the opposition Conservative party.
The Council agreed to put up council tax by 3.73%, the maximum increase without having to hold a referendum.
CLLR RICHARD MORGAN, LEADER OF THE COTSWOLD CONSERVATIVES
The budget also approved a 33% increase in garden waste licences (green bins) which increase from £30 to £40 per annum. In addition, bulky waste collection charges will increase by 79%, moving from £14 to £25 for the collection of up to three items.
Perhaps the most controversial topic of debate was the authorisation for the council to borrow money for the first time in almost two decades. The council approved total borrowing over the next four years of £65.8 million pounds, to be spent on commercial investments and social housing provision.
However, opposition Conservative members opposed the plans, criticising the lack of detail and claiming the level of borrowing was disproportionate for a council that only has a net budget requirement of £12.6 million a year.
Cllr Richard Morgan, Leader of the Opposition Conservative Group said,
“We were asked to approve borrowing of £65.8 million, yet we have no idea what £54.2 million will be spent on. There are rumours of investments into solar farms or social housing projects, but there are no firm proposals and no details so how can we make a fair assessment?
We are also worried the budget does not balance in the future and the council plans to run at budget deficits for at least the next three years. Even after we add a healthy profit from these as yet undefined future investments, the council is still spending to much money.
It did not need to be like this, the government has given District councils unprecedented support since the start of this pandemic, and CDC could / should have come out of this pandemic in a stronger financial position than we went in. We had no option but to oppose this budget.”
In comparison, the Lib Dem administration claim the budget is sound and prudent and will reinvest in the Cotswolds and will significantly increase the numbers of social housing in the future for Cotswold residents.