Tax increase could lead to axing buses

HOUSEHOLDS across Ipswich are today facing tax rises of just over four per cent, despite warnings that the borough budget could lead to the loss of bus services in some parts of the town.

By Paul Geater

HOUSEHOLDS across Ipswich are today facing tax rises of just over four per cent, despite warnings that the borough budget could lead to the loss of bus services in some parts of the town.

During an ill-tempered debate on the borough's budget for next year, opposition Labour councillors accused the Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration of putting Ipswich Buses at risk by insisting that it pays a dividend and rent on its Constantine Road headquarters.

Tory and Liberal Democrat politicians accused their opponents of scaremongering - saying that no routes would be cut unless there was no demand from passengers.

Labour leader David Ellesmere said the money from the council-owned bus company was an integral part of the budget put together by the coalition administration.

Looking at Liberal Democrat councillors he said: “If you vote for this budget you are voting for service cuts to Ipswich Buses further down the line.”

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Conservative deputy leader John Carnall said the budget would see a below-inflation increase in council tax bills in the town while improving services for residents.

He said: “We are also going to be spending more on maintaining buildings that were ignored by Labour during their 25 years in power in the town.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Richard Atkins rejected Labour claims that the administration was putting bus services at risk.

He said: “This administration has supported bus services and will continue to do so in the future. If there is a threat to any services from a commercial point of view we would look at supporting them if the demand was there.”

In a recorded vote, all the borough's Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors present supported the budget while all the Labour councillors voted against it.

Ipswich Buses have introduced a new 'Mad March Fare' offer of a flat charge of £1 for any journey in the borough by adults after 6.30pm and all day Sunday over the next month.