New budget set with 1.9% council tax rise

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The scene at the Town Hall ahead of the council's budget meeting. Pic © Connor Dunn / JMU Journalism

The scene at the Town Hall ahead of the council’s budget meeting. Pic © Connor Dunn / JMU Journalism

Councillors approved plans for a 1.9% rise in council tax for Liverpool citizens next year at Wednesday night’s budget meeting.

The council voted for the Labour-backed budget despite regular heated exchanges in the Town Hall and a failed amendment by the Green party which could have seen council tax rise by 6%.

Mayor Joe Anderson also announced that he had set up a task group to help manage children’s centres in the future after confirming last week that the city’s SureStart centres were to be saved until at least 2017.

Mayor Anderson said that it was with a heavy heart that he was recommending this budget, which is the second phase of a three-year plan approved last year.

He told the meeting: “If you look at the situation that we’re now in, it is becoming daily a challenge that is the most difficult set of circumstances that we could have ever thought in our worst nightmare. It’s heartbreaking.

“There is a difference between the political parties, because if we get this government in any form back again then our city faces one of the bleakest times in its history in terms of 2017 and the damage that would be inflicted on us.”

“Our aim is to become a city that controls our own destiny. Yes I know we have difficult days ahead of us, but I know if you kick the people of this city they will stand up and kick you back. The best days for this city lie ahead of it.”

This year’s meeting attracted none of the large and vibrant protests which had been witnessed outside budget gatherings in recent years, with councillors this time enjoying a clear entry to the chamber.

However, emotions often ran high throughout the meeting itself, with Green Councillor John Coyne being forced to apologise after swearing during a debate.

A small number of police officers stood outside at the Town Hall but no protests were held ahead of the council's budget meeting. Pic © Connor Dunn / JMU Journalism

A small number of police officers stood outside at the Town Hall but no protests were held ahead of the council’s budget meeting. Pic © Connor Dunn / JMU Journalism

Lord Mayor Erica Kemp was also moved to adjourn the meeting for 10 minutes after independent Councillor Jake Morrison refused to back down on calling for a late amendment regarding cuts to two domestic violence charities.

Liberal party leader in Liverpool, Steve Radford, who was personally thanked by Mayor Anderson for his group’s help in the discussions behind setting the budget, agreed that there were tough times ahead for the city.

Cllr Radford told JMU Journalism: “It’s a horrendously difficult time. But I think we are right to try and talk up the city and I think during the Militant era, which I was a councillor from, they talked down the city and they talked down people’s aspirations in the city.

“Even if things are tough we should talk the city up and talk people’s aspirations up and look to the positives despite all the problems, and I think that’s the right approach politically for the city.”

About Adam Jones, JMU Journalism