Budget is passed amid fiery debate

Coun Stephen Baines.
Coun Stephen Baines.

Calderdale Council’s budget for the next three years was set amid a fiery debate at Halifax Town Hall.

Residents will see a freeze in council tax for two years, but the council has to find £9.4 million of savings by 2018.

The Conservative-led administration worked with the Liberal Democrats to pass its budget.

Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf), leader of the council, told the meeting: “There are very few changes to the budget for 2015/16, but the council tax still remains as a zero increase as in the agreement last year.

“The major changes in our budget come in 2017/18. We’ve always firmly believed that this should be decided after consultation with the general public, which is why we haven’t put forward any firm proposals,” he said.

“We’ve put forward some rough headings which are not set in concrete, so the general public can say what their priorities are.”

The budget was roundly criticised by the opposing Labour group. Labour leader Coun Tim Swift said: “The Conservative budget lacks imagination, provides no sense of vision for the future and puts off any meaningful decisions until after the election.”

An alternative budget put forward by the Labour group was blocked because although Labour is the largest party on the council, it is one member short of an overall majority.

Mayor of Calderdale Coun Pat Allen sought legal advice before casting a deciding vote supporting the Conservative-led administration’s budget.