Conservative Leader Councillor Mark Weston has condemned Opposition Parties for imposing an extra tax burden on local households which he says will cause many to experience unnecessary hardship.
At Tuesday's Full Council Meeting, held to provisionally set the city's revenue and capital budgets, the Mayor's proposed 1.95% increase in Council Tax was raised by an additional 2% precept amendment originally moved by the Greens.
Whilst the Conservative Group was prepared to swallow the lower figure, they had maintained throughout the budget consultation and negotiation process that a 3.95% hike was a step too far to take.
Following a lively debate on the controversial amendment, a combination of Green, Labour and Lib Dem Members outvoted the Tories to incorporate this change to the Mayor's draft proposals (voting 49 for, 14 Tories against and 1 abstention) so that a Band D households would expect to see their annual Council Tax bills rise by £56 to £1,419.
However, along with the Tories, 9 Greens and the Lib Dem Leader later voted against the amended Mayor’s budget (33 Members For; 24 Against; and 7 Abstaining), leaving Labour to force through the rate rise.
Councillor Mark Weston (Con, Henbury & Brentry) said: "We are very disappointed by this bumper council tax rise.
"The Greens have shown themselves, once again, to be totally out of touch with what the public want and the level of financial burden people are prepared to bear.
"Unfortunately, this time, they have been aided and abetted in their endeavours by Labour and – initially at least - the Lib Dems – who, along with the Greens, then back-peddled on setting a budget at all.
“The Mayor had already indicated he was minded to accept the budget as they had amended it, despite the fact that this hefty rise was not needed to balance this year's books.
"A double increase in local bills is neither fair nor necessary at this time and will surely cause hardship to some.
"I do not believe that the public will welcome this inflation busting increase once tax demands hit their doormats.
"They will do well to remember who exactly is responsible (Labour – prompted by the Greens and Lib Dems) for this outcome."
Conservative Chief Whip Councillor John Goulandris - who spoke passionately against this extra rise argued: "the revenue-raising amendment was both anti-democratic (people had not been consulted or given a choice on the proposal) and ill-thought out."
CONTACT MARK WESTON tel: 07709421667