Lib Dems fired up in freeze saga

LOCAL Liberal Democrats say they are angry that the Conservative-run council have ignored their requests for a freeze on council tax and parking charges.

Party Leader, Councillor Ann-Marie Barker (below), said: “We wanted a freeze. A freeze could have been funded from a combination of the Government grant on offer and by taking a small amount from the council’s substantial reserves.

“The Government offered a one per cent increase and the remainder could have been made up by taking around £80,000 from the reserves.”

In her speech about the budget-setting on Thursday, Cllr Barker noted: “The economy is improving but local people, who may well have had little or no pay rise in the last few years, have seen food, fuel and energy prices go up and will now be hit with having to find yet more extra money.”

Fellow Lib Dem Cllr Ken Howard told the meeting he could not support a rise. He said: “I can’t look my residents in the face and admit I voted for an increase in council tax.”

Speaking of his disappointment after the meeting, Cllr Liam Lyons went on to add: “Despite having millions in reserves and a Government grant available, Woking Tories prefer to charge hard-pressed residents a higher council tax and more to park in our town.”

Cllr Will Forster (right) has also slammed the plans to increase council tenants’ rents.

He said the ‘shocking’ hike was made because it is likely to be the ‘last opportunity’ to do so.

“The average increase in council rents is going to be £4.27 a week or more than £17 a month. But some tenants will pay even more,” he explained.

“What makes this large increase worse is that the Tories say the main reason is because the Government is making changes in guidance on council house rents and so this is likely to be the last opportunity to make this level of increase.

“That is truly shocking. Of course, many will have some or all of their rent paid by benefits, but pensioner households, which are likely to be on fixed incomes, will have to pay the increase.”

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