Labour group at Ipswich council sees off Tory bid to save crèche services
PUBLISHED: 20:19 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 20:19 22 February 2017
Council tax bills in Ipswich will go up by 2.7% from April.
Ipswich Borough Council confirmed that its element of council tax bills will go up by 1.99%, the highest figure available without triggering a local referendum.
When added to the Suffolk County Council and Police and Crime Commissioner elements of council tax bills, this means that households will be charged 2.68% more during the next financial year.
That means a household in a band B home – the most widespread in Ipswich – will pay an extra £34.65 next year. The borough’s element of that increase is £5.18.
The opposition Conservative group did not put forward an alternative budget – but it did make a last-minute bid to prevent the closure of crèche facilities at sports centres in the town.
Tory leader Nadia Cenci said the £65,000 cost of running the crèches could be found by reducing the editions of the council’s newspaper Ipswich Angle to one a year and reducing the allowances paid to chairs of area committees.
She said: “This saving could be made from other areas that would not affect the people who use the service.”
Liberal Democrat Inga Lockington backed the Tories’ amendment – pointing out that crèche facilities were vital for young mothers to give them the opportunity to meet other people when their children were very young.
However council leader David Ellesmere said the number of people who used the crèches was very small – and in fact everyone who used the service was being subsidised by about £76 a month.
He said: “We did not want to stop this service but the cuts brought in by the Tory government mean we have to make savings somewhere.”
Labour councillors who spoke during the debate contrasted the Conservatives’ attitude towards the crèches with their silence when the Tory-controlled county council cut children’s centres two years ago.
Sandra Gage, who is also a county councillor, said: “When two children’s centres in the most deprived parts of Ipswich – and the whole county – it affected far more children – but they did nothing then.”
After the amendment was lost the Labour-dominated council voted to approve the original budget proposals.