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Freeze and fees for Richmond taxpayers next year
Richmond taxpayers will have their council tax frozen next year but will face rises in fees and charges.
Richmond Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance Councillor, Geoffrey Samuel, said he expected at least £4.5m to be cut from the council’s grant from the Government next year.
He said: “It’s a difficult situation and it means we have got to stick to all the things we are doing at the moment.
“Anything we can share with other councils we will. If outsourcing will give us a better service we will go for it.”
Coun Samuel said the council would be under relentless pressure but made assurances that no services would be cut.
He said: “It’s because we have been enormously careful. In some cases you make provision for something although you have a realistic hope that it won’t be needed. All the year you are taking actions.
“It is possible to cut costs and improve services.”
Coun Samuel said fees and charges for car parking and street parties would be frozen but said others would be increased to generate funds for the council.
He said: “They [fees] must make a bigger contribution to our funds. If it’s council tax there is nothing people can do to avoid it. If it’s swimming charges you can chose. I am a great believer in people running their own lives.
“Borrowing is bequeathing debt to your successors. I think it’s grossly irresponsible. If you borrow, borrow, borrow then you spend it on that in interest charges.
“If you spend it on interest you can’t spend it on other things.
“I will not support a capital programme that’s funded by borrowing full stop.”
Coun Samuel also said while the council supported the idea behind the London living wage it would not commit to it in the near future as it could threaten youth jobs and cost in excess of £4m.
He said: “We believe it right but to move on at this stage would threaten jobs and make it impossible to freeze council tax.
“I agree with the London living wage. It’s a morally correct idea but not at this stage.
“It’s much more complex than simply poverty wages. There are some very interesting moral issues.
“Economists are divided on it. I think most economists would agree that there is an employment affect.”
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