In the four years since 2011, there has been less opportunity for Conservatives to influence Council activity than in the period 2007-11 as no Conservatives have been appointed to the City's Cabinet. Conservatives have nevertheless contributed in various ways to Council decisions concerning:-
• the future of the Lancaster Market
• the future of the Storey Institute
• the by-laws affecting Hackney Carriages in Lancaster District and
• the sound recording of proceedings in meetings of full Council.


In proposing an amendment to the budget of the Labour-led administration to raise Council Tax by 1.99% for 2015-6, I drew attention to figures in the agenda papers that showed it will cost local people 153,000 of Council Tax to incur local expenditure of 58,000, but that it would cost only 58,000 to incur the same expenditure of 58,000 out of balances.

The amendment was "that Council chooses to freeze Council Tax and accept the Compensation Grant (of 93,000 from Central Government) and invites Cabinet to present a budget to the next meeting of Council in which at Cabinet's discretion, there is some combination of additional savings requirement and additional use of balances to balance the budget in respect of the 58,000 of expenditure no longer to be funded from Council Tax raised in 2015/16." The amendment was seconded by Cllr. Williamson but on a recorded vote, it was lost by 31 votes to 19.

In the debate, I said that I was proposing the amendment in order to freeze Council Tax for one year and that the amendment was in line with local Conservative policy of working with Central Government to keep Council Tax down. It would have no impact on the proposal to set a target of annual increases of 1.99% for future years and it created no requirement for cuts in budgeted expenditure for 2015-16. It would not affect the amount of road sweeping or bin collecting that goes on. Any decision about budget cuts would be a matter for the next Council meeting.

I said I believed money was more effectively spent by those who have earned it than by those who have obtained it by levying taxation. Central government was offering a compensation grant to encourage councils to freeze Council Tax - and the existence of the grant made a compelling case for the City Council to freeze Council Tax this year. In the present circumstances of 58,000 being the full extent of extra spending the Council could make in 2015-6 as a result of raising 153,000 of extra Council Tax, I argued that it was clearly the case that "raising Council Tax this year would not be giving local taxpayers a reasonable deal". In voting for 153,000 of extra taxation, the administration was effectively asking taxpayers to value the marginal expenditure of 58,000 at more than twice its cash cost to taxpayers. I summed up the debate by quoting to the Labour-led administration the words of John McEnroe "You cannot be serious...."




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