Councillors have passed the Enfield Borough Council budget.
The Civic Centre in Silver Street, Enfield Town, played host to the ‘yah-booing’ event that was full council tonight, Wednesday, February 26, which resulted in the budget being passed through.
Leader of the council, Doug Taylor opened proceedings, criticising the coalition government for dismantling the ‘very fabric of local government’ after it was announced that a further 27 per cent of the budget would be cut over the next four years.
He said: “The coalition government has systematically and unreasonably dismantled the very fabric of local government and democracy. What we have is a balance budget that is well stewarded.
“In 2010 by contrast we inherited the most dramatic cuts ever seen and in this period we have protected services and frozen council tax each and every year.”
Council tax has been frozen for a fourth successive year however plans have been made to increase the council tax by 2 per cent between 2015 and 2017.
Cllr Taylor also added that the challenge set upon them is ‘enormous’ but believes the council can deliver.
He added: “The financial challenge in the future is enormous. I recognise that there are difficult times for this council but I can promise that a future labour council will make any necessary tough decision.”
Leader of the Conservative party Michael Lavender did not share the same views as his counterpart and slammed the forthcoming budget and said it has been a ‘passive recipient of central government funding.’
He said: This budget is unsustainable, it is a wonga budget – it is only ever looking for its next payday. This sets out quite starkly the situation we are in, there is a £34 million shortfall.
“The matter is compounded by the MTFP (medium term financial planning) which now stands for the medium term financial prayer.”
Cllr Lavender claimed that the council’s plans to ‘bridge the gap’ for shortfall was anything but a plan and labelled it a ‘prayer.’
Political tennis was played throughout the evening as various councillors stating their support or opposition to the budget.
Mayor of Enfield and chair of the budget meeting, Councillor Chaudhury Anwar told Labour councillors to ‘shut up’ after sustained heckling during Cllr Terry Neville’s speech.
Councillor Andrew Stafford, cabinet member for finance stated that cuts made by the government had been ‘brutal’ and ‘savage’ and sought to address business rates.
He said: “I want to tackle this repeated nonsense that has been in the local press about reductions in business rates.
“This administration has put in place plans to help business rates where the previous administration in eight years did not give one penny, in business rates relief.
“The welfare benefit cap of £100 million means that this money will no longer be spent on the high street.”
Central government has provided a £1,000 discount on business rates which has been included in the council’s budget.