Independents call for 3% Council Tax rise

Bill Brown, Bryan Poole and Marie Penman with their budget proposals
Bill Brown, Bryan Poole and Marie Penman with their budget proposals

Fife’s independent councillors have called for Council Tax to be increased to protect public services.

They want to see it go up by three per cent to protect vital services.

The call comes in the countdown to the crucial budget meeting scheduled for early next month.

The trio – Councillors Bill Brown, Marie Penman and Bryan Poole – insist that without a rise, more cuts will have to be made that affect the most vulnerable people in the Kingdom.

With a reduction of £24.3m in the government grant expected, drastic measures are being proposed by Council officers to save money, including some affecting education and social care.

The independent trio say it is time for action rather than more of the blame game as councillors point the finger at either Holyrood or Westminster.

Cllr Penman said : ‘If it’s a choice between asking people to contribute a bit more, or closing more schools and libraries, then we three firmly support a rise of three per cent.’’

That works out at a rise of about £4 a month for people in a Band C property.

Other cost savings put forward by the trio include cutting the hours in the school week, increasing class sizes, reducing the use of free school buses and getting rid of support staff.

Cllr Poole said he was opposed to any cuts that might impact on education in Fife.

‘We are of the view that rather than considering further cuts to education, we should actually be investing even more in Fife’s young people,’’ he said.

‘’The biggest challenge in education in Fife and across Scotland is the chronic shortage of teachers. We can only fix that by generating more money.’

The independents say the impact on more cuts would impact on all sections of society.

They highlighted a report based on census results in Scotland which predicted that the over-65 population in Fife will rise by 59 per cent in the next 20 years, leading to an increasing need for home care and support services such as meals on wheels.

Cllr Brown said: ‘Even without budget cuts, the cost of running public services is going to go up, just because of the increase in demand.

‘’Without raising Council Tax, how will we pay for this?’

The trio believe it’s time to accept the harsh realities of a reduced budget and do what’s necessary to cover the shortfall.

‘The people in Fife are fed up with all the cross-party bickering that goes on. Politicians need to work together to come up with a solution and we firmly believe this process has to start with a rise in Council Tax,’ said Cllr Penman.