Boston Council approves budget which includes 2.99% tax increase

Council approves budget
Council approves budget

Senior councillors accused opposition members of “giving up on Boston” as they approved a budget which included a 2.99% tax rise.

Critics of the budget also took the opportunity at last night’s full council meeting to hit out at tax rises at both Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police.

The rise will see Band D properties pay around £5.49 extra – a total of £189.09.

The authority predicts it will take £3,618,029 in council tax this year – an extra £182,212 on 2018/19.

Labour Councillor Paul Gleason supported the budget but said he could not vote for the rise. The combined tax rises “moved responsibility onto the poorest people of Boston,” he said.

Bostonian Independent Group Councillor Brian Rush and Barrie Pierpoint both accused Lincolnshire County Council of “forgetting the town”.

Councillor Rush said: “Just look around at all the other towns in the county. People’s views are very bad around Boston – and I tend to agree.”

Councillor Pierpoint called the PCC rise “outrageous” and said: “Certainly in Boston all I see is continuous crime, problems and aggravation for the public and all I’ve seen in the last 10 years since I’ve lived here is more crime, more crime and more crime.”

However Councillors in support of the budget said the town was clean and safe, they said the borough was the fastest growing in the county and expressed sympathy with other authorities.

Portfolio holder for finance and Conservative councillor Aaron Spencer denied the borough was being ignored, pointing to projects such as the Boston Distributor Road which has recently had funding applied for.

The budget comes as authorities across the region look at other avenues of income in the face of funding cuts from government.

Following the meeting Councillor Spencer said: “I was very disappointed to hear a member of BIG say he agreed with people when they use bad adjectives to describe the town. It’s almost like they have given up.”

He said other factors included the amount of money which the council was forced to pay to internal drainage boards – more than half the precept.

“Clearly I don’t want to put up council tax to that degree and it’s not a decision we take lightly but we have to. It’s not until the Fairer Funding review comes through and we get a positive decision on that things will change.”

He said he had offered opposition members the chance to present alternatives.

“We had none, not even a whisper of any opposition member coming to us with any priority of what they wanted to deliver to the people they want to represent.”

Council Leader Michael Cooper said: “The budget is a good, balanced budget. We’ve had to do the rise we’ve done to make that budget balanced because we’re under extreme pressure due to government cuts.

He admitted the PCC rise was “very steep” adding: “The people of Boston are going to find that one very difficult. LCC again are under pretty heavy pressure from the government. It’s not quite straight forward but they’re under the same pressure as the rest of us.

“We are one of the most efficient councils in the county. Boston Borough delivers more on less, as simple as that. This council delivers an immense amount on a very small amount of council tax.”