Friday, 7 February 2014

"Labour would hike Council Tax"

The Deputy Leader of North Ayrshire Council, Cllr Alan Hill, has launched a blistering attack on a Labour opponent, accusing him of wanting to “hike” the Council Tax bills of local people.

Council Tax levels in North Ayrshire have been frozen since the SNP formed the Scottish Government in 2007. SNP Ministers provide funding in each year’s local government settlement to cover what councils lose by not raising the local tax.

The Labour Party went into the last Scottish Parliament Election, in 2011, supporting the SNP’s Council Tax freeze, but prominent members have since attacked the measure and have indicated local authorities should be free to raise revenue by increasing the tax. North Ayrshire councillor Alex Gallagher (North Coast & Cumbraes) appeared to be one of the Labour members who supported an end to the Council Tax. Cllr Gallagher’s comments came in a letter to his local newspaper, the Largs & Millport Weekly News.

Now, Cllr Alan Hill has accused Cllr Gallagher of again making comments to the press, in which the Labour man apparently opposed the Council Tax freeze.

Alan Hill said, “Labour’s mishandling of the economy led, in part, to the current financial crisis, and hard-pressed families who have benefited from the Council Tax freeze over the last few years will not want to see a return to the days when Labour imposed above-inflation Council Tax increases on them year after year, after year.”

The Deputy Leader of the local Council’s SNP administration noted, “It’s probably worth pointing out again that in 14 short years from 1999, Labour increased the Council Tax in North Ayrshire by a staggering 119%. No one, apart from Alex Gallagher and his Labour colleagues, wants to see a return to those bad old days.”

Cllr Hill said the Labour Party is “all over the place on the Council Tax,” adding, “Sometimes they are for it and at other times against, but to give Alex Gallagher his due, at least he is consistent – he always wants to increase your local taxes.”

According to Alan Hill, the SNP did not introduce the Council Tax freeze in isolation, but, rather, had done it as part of a package of measures to assist families, students, tenants, the elderly and the disabled. “These measures include assistance to councils to mitigate against the Bedroom Tax, and saw the introduction of free prescriptions, free concessionary travel, the scrapping of tuition fees for students and free personal care for the elderly,” said Cllr Hill.

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