Conservative Response to Labour’s Borough Budget

20190301_133725The following speech was made by Cllr Eddy Phillips, Shadow Finance Portfolio Holder & Deputy Group Leader of IBC Conservative Group, on 27 February 2019.

Yet another year and the same story we are seeing from Ipswich Labour and their so-called balanced budget. Much of Cllr Ellesmere’s intro was a copy and paste job from last year and the year before.

So I’m going to again do what I do every year as I highlight some of their failings in certain areas where one might expect income to be improving and closing the gap on expenses. Yet the Regent Theatre income is now £13k down and £90k down on 2 years ago. Sports and leisure cost £1.45m last year, now it has increased to £1.85m.

Income from corporate properties is down £300,000.

Car park income is down by £100,000.

Income from HEARS is down by £50,000.

New homes bonus income from govt is down, hardly surprising when Labour run IBC is not building the homes it promises either by its own target or even for private developers due to its inability to engage with developers in a positive manner .

In the year 2017 to 2018, the private sector delivered 80 homes, housing associations 10 and IBC 7. In 2011-12, private developers delivered 200, housing authorities 90 and council none. Cllr M Cook indicated 221 private sector homes are expected to be delivered this year, and up to 467 in 3 years. How when the numbers are so low? It was this Conservative government that tore up Labour’s restrictions on council house building.

So how does Labour intend to balance their budget this year: they have allocated a challenging £5.3m of savings in their big ticket programme, of which two thirds comes under the rather unclear title of Service Efficiencies and income.

As usual, Labour are increasing their portion of council tax by the maximum they can. OK, so SCC and the PCC are doing so also, but I can’t imagine in their election leaflets, Labour will point out that the SCC has a budget of £519m against IBC of about £19m, 27 times smaller, therefore hardly surprising that your contribution to SCC is bigger.

Nor will Labour tell voters that 75% of SCC funding is spent on adults and children’s services nor will they tell them highways has a budget of £46m.

But back to Labour, always increasing CT by as much as they can get away with. Let’s not forget their 33% increase in SCC CT between 2002 and 2004, and on IBC 23% in the same period.

Thanks to Conservatives being in government since 2010, we have kept CT increases at capped levels to help out hard-working families across the country, which has been 2 or 3% excluding the social care levy.

Labour tell you how hard up they are. Yet they keep over-estimating how much they intend to spend and when it comes it at substantial underspends, they squirrel the money away or give it to their arms length companies, where all transparency ceases. And pat themselves on the back for their way of manipulating their spending.

There is scope to improve income but their attitude of protectionism and inadequate co-operation with other local authorities, creates their sense of doom and gloom.

Why have we not presented any alternative budget this year? Well Cllr Abbot came up with a single proposal at SCC’s budget meeting, but our view is that we don’t want to waste officer time on something that will be voted down ! We would simply start afresh from top to bottom if we were running IBC.

I was pleased to hear Cllr Carole Jones thanking the CONSERVATIVE government for granting £10m for infrastructure work at the garden suburb development (Northern Fringe).

Cllr McDonald commented on the delayed development at Ravenswood UVW and blaming us. However the housing WOULD have been delivered years ago if Labour had worked with the Ravenswood Residents Association on coming to an agreed consensus on the tenure mix.

 

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More Money in Your Pocket!

money in pocket

Ipswich is the County Town of Suffolk and, although the Borough boundary is small, its economy supports a far wider area. Already there are thousands of people coming into Ipswich every day of the week and this will only rise as other smaller areas, outside of our control, grow in size.

We offer the major employment opportunities in the area.

We offer the biggest & best culture and leisure in the area.

We offer the best shopping in the area (despite the issues with the Town Centre)

Thousands of people from outside Ipswich benefit from the services operated and paid for by Ipswich Borough Council. Why shouldn’t you, as Council Tax payers benefit from this?

Conservative Councillors believe we should all benefit, to take a share in the success of our Town.

It’s a simple policy really, Ipswich residents should get a discount on services operated by the Borough such as Car Parks, the Regent, the Corn Exchange, Sports Centres etc. The cost for this would be met by non-residents paying extra to cover the costs.

As tax-payers we all shoulder the responsibility if things fail, why shouldn’t we share in their success.

A vote for a Conservative Councillor in the next local elections will help make Council Tax fairer for all of us,

 

 

 

Shopping and car parking-what is happening ?

2018-08-15 12.55.17.jpgWhen talking to residents, two of the most common problems many talk about is shops in Ipswich, and the price of car parking.

SHOPPING.

We have all seen the failures and near failures of well-known names such as Maplins, Poundworld, Homebase, Toys R Us and House of Fraser. Here in Ipswich, we have been affected by some of these in the town centre and out of town retail parks. The economy overall is doing well; households have the greatest level of confidence in their finances in over three years, according to IHS Markit. So what is happening with our high streets?

I would suggest that the large online retailers such as Amazon are making trading conditions excessively competitive for some high street shops. The likes of Amazon are perceived to not be paying much tax. We saw that they only paid £1.7m so far for 2017, when its profits are £72.3m, and turnover of £1.98b. I read in the press that the SNP government in Scotland and the UK government are considering whether their business rates on their enormous warehouses is actually fair, when bricks and mortar shops are having to pay onerous business rates.

As a Conservative, I believe in low taxation for businesses and workers. But it does not feel right if high street shops are struggling due to their high operating costs where they cannot compete with Amazon. Yes  – rents are a factor, and that is something that some of the retail chains are negotiating.

But business rates are in the control of government, and this could be one area where the government could re-balance the scales in favour of physical shops, since our town centres are the life-blood of our community. Some people complain about the lack of shops, might browse in physical shops but then go online to order their goods.

If you want to save your high street, you need to support it. In Ipswich, we see more diversity with the Buttermarket Shopping Centre being transformed into a popular eating, leisure and cinema venue. The redevelopment of the Cornhill, over which some residents have reservations, will transform our town centre and attract new investment and choice.

CAR PARKING.

Here in Ipswich, the Borough Council is planning on increasing its car park fees again. The council selectively compares IBC-owned car parks to the private operators locally such as NCP, and further afield in other towns such as Norwich, Colchester and Bury, and attempts to highlight that its car park charges are cheaper in some cases. The problem is that the data only compare a select set of fees, and ignores other nearby towns. And by putting up IBC fees, the private operators may gleefully increase theirs in due course to maintain the differential.

The Conservatives’ approach is to offer Ipswich residents a discount on car parking charges and bus fares. For the town centre, we want to see a radical transformation of the town by offering more cultural and family entertainment & we are proposing a new Waterfront Heritage Centre and a multiuse Arena. Let’s show the region and the country what a top-class place Ipswich can be.

 

Car Parking, how much?

bird s eye view of parked cars

 

Labour controlled Ipswich Borough Council have just announced an 8.3% increase in short-stay car parking charges across the town. This is in addition to the massive rise last year. Since 2017 Labour have increased the charges by a mouth-watering 30%, over 7 times the rate of inflation.

The Town Centre is already suffering and Labour’s policy will do nothing to help.

Conservative Councillors want to see two-tier parking charges split between residents & non-residents. The cost would be neutral as one would pay for the other. We are also considering a scheme to encourage shoppers to use one of Ipswich’s many superb independent shops by offering a refund of parking charges when making a purchase.

Ipswich Conservatives believe that a new approach is needed. The tired old-fashioned policies of the Labour group are driving Ipswich to a standstill.

The hard pressed tax-payers of Ipswich deserve a better deal.