VIDEO: Debate as council budget and tax freeze is voted in

Borough politicians debated whether a council tax freeze will be good for Boston as the authority’s budget plans for 2014/15 were passed.

The financial strategy for the next year was set out by deputy leader Coun Raymond Singleton-McGuire, portfolio holder for finance, with plans to freeze council tax.

West Street.

West Street.

He said that despite this, the council would look to be invest in schemes to refurbish public toilets, replace street cleansing machinery and supporting the Broadband UK initiative.

“We must ensure we continue to manage our finances rigorously and spend every penny wisely for the benefit of the people we serve,” said Coun Singleton-McGuire. “This budget ensures the council does more with less. There are many risks that the council faces, such as the likelihood of further reductions in Government funding. This budget is designed to meet such challenges head-on and ensure that the best possible services are provided to the people of Boston.”

Voting against the budget at Monday’s meeting, Labour councillor Paul Gleeson said: “To my mind it isn’t a budget that benefits the people of Boston and whilst we may be steering a sinking ship, we are steering that steadily onto the rocks.

“We need to try to reinvigorate the town and I’m afraid, just re-addressing the car parks won’t do that.

“As a council, we are paying for six years of not keeping up with inflation. And because of that we now don’t have the money that we need to put some of the serious problems of the borough right.

“My group will be voting against this budget because we don’t think it addresses the needs of the town.”

Coun Gleeson said the council needed to work together towards creating a ‘more vibrant’ Boston and noted how ‘frighteningly quiet’ the Market Place was on market day last Wednesday, despite the sunshine.

“I know it’s a quiet time of the year, but it isn’t looking good,” he added: “I’m not blaming anyone here, but we’ve got to admit that things aren’t working.”

Conservative councillor Mike Gilbert said: “We were subject to an administration that weren’t doing things as efficiently as I would argue we are as a Conservative administration.”

Making reference to ‘long-standing problems’ with the Assembly Rooms before it was sold, the PRSA, closure of the Geoff Moulder training pool and the ‘deplorable’ state of the council’s refuge fleet, he said: “We actually put forward proposals to increase council tax with a view to tackling these long-standing problems that the people of Boston public was having to endure.

“If we went to the public now and asked them if they would like to see an increase in their council tax, I think they would probably say ‘no, you get enough money from us’.

Coun Gilbert added: “I think we’ve done an extremely good job, getting efficiencies, delivering excellent services and improving some of the things we inherited from the last administration.”

Members voted in favour of the proposed 2014/2015 budget, 23 to five.