Poole council leader in an ‘awkward place’

The leader of Poole council is in a “very awkward place” after her proposed council tax increases were rejected by the council, says a Liberal Democrat councillor.

Conservative council leader Elaine Atkinson had proposed a 1.95% increase in council tax bills to offset increases in emergency services spending and government cuts, but her plans failed by two votes in the cabinet.

Liberal Democrat councillor Phil Eades said: “I think she’s in a very awkward place because she’s almost staked her reputation on the council increasing council tax.”

“The majority of the councillors didn’t agree with her and so now she has two options: either she does resign or she carries on and lives with a budget that she doesn’t agree with. So I think she’s in a very awkward place and really she has to look to her own conscience,” said Councillor Eades.

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[/one_half] [one_half_last]While pressure has mounted on Councillor Atkinson, Conservative councillors have backed their leader despite lack of support for her council tax plan.

Conservative councillor Peter Adams said: “I support her more strongly now than I did previously and I have always supported her strongly. I think she has shown true leadership in the particular incidence regarding the budget.”[/one_half_last] “She looked to the future of Poole, the vision for where we need to be in the future. She did not look for short termism and cheap political gain,” said Councillor Adams.

Mr Adams said he was very concerned that by not passing the council tax increase and instead by dipping into council reserves to balance the budget, Poole council had created a £2.4 million deficit which would impact their budget for years.

“On the advantage of cheap short-term political gain, the decision by the council has seriously endangered the budget of Poole for the next ten years,” said Councillor Adams.

“In my ten years as a Poole councillor I am yet to find a worse decision,” the Tory added.

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[/one_half] [one_half_last]But Liberal Democrat, Councillor Eades, disagreed, saying: “We should look at everything we do and look for extra savings and taking money from the people of Poole should absolutely be the last resort.”

“Some of the money we have stacked up in reserves should be used before we start taking money from the people of Poole,” Mr Eades added.[/one_half_last]

Main image courtesy nancyjmullins, Flickr

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