Labour’s budget passed: Council Tax rise, government funding drops, KMT cuts

Redbridge Town Hall

Redbridge Town Hall - Credit: Archant

A passionate budget council meeting last night saw government funding, the Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) and Woodford Green Library top the agenda.

Despite a late amendment from the Conservatives yesterday afternoon, Labour’s budget was passed by 34 councillors to 27 with the Mayor abstaining.

Council tax will rise by 3.99 per cent and council tax benefit is being reduced as well, with leader Cllr Jas Athwal explaining his administration had little choice with 52pc grant funding cuts.

He said: “While we lose £8million due to damping, David Cameron’s constituency received £9m this year and £9m next year.”

During his opening speech Cllr Athwal put up images which showed Redbridge has £411 to spend per person, compared to £750 for Newham and £952 for Hackney.

He added: “This budget is set with that backdrop in mind.”

Due to demographic changes the council will set out £750,000 for asylum seekers, put £4.75m into temporary accommodation and give £1.2m towards adult social services.

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Redbridge Conservatives tabled an amendment yesterday afternoon which reversed cuts to half the Kenneth More Theatre’s funding by 2018, and also blocked the Woodford Green Library move.

Tory leader Cllr Paul Canal accused Labour of “pulling the rug from under the theatre” and having “no real accountability”.

Cllr Linda Huggett (Con, Monkhams) criticised early plans to demolish Sir James Hawkey Hall, saying it is “the beating heart of the community” and added her residents thought the south of the borough was being prioritised over the west.

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Ian Bond agreed with Cllr Athwal that Labour had a hard job due to funding cuts, but said his party could not support a budget which would reduce council tax benefit on “the most vulnerable”.

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