COUNCILLORS signed off on a council tax freeze and controversial green waste charges while rubber stamping Swindon Council’s budget for the next financial year.
It was confirmed as expected that the council tax will remain at its current level for the next twelve months, while the green waste charge will also be implemented from April.
There were heated discussions at a late night meeting on Monday as Labour attempted to pass an amendment to stop the charge, which will see households having to pay an annual fee of £40, but it did not pass as the Tory administration did not feel it had been costed properly.
Council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) said the council was forced to look at how it delivered certain services.
He said it was faced with a reduction in central grants, inflationary costs and the rising demand for children and adult services, which makes up for a third of the £142 million budget.
“We have certain things which as a council we have to provide so in the face of this triple whammy we have to make difficult decisions,” said Coun Renard.
“In terms of the 2013/14 budget I am delighted we have been able to keep council tax frozen for a fourth straight year as we aware of the rising living costs people face.
“As a council though we have to think about the long term. If there was a way we could have avoided the green waste charge we would have done so.
“There was a paid service until 2006 and we have been lucky that up until now we have been able to continue with that. Local authorities up and down the country have either brought in this change or are looking to do so.
“We cannot keep holding back the Swindon tide.”
There is a possibility that some changes will be brought in after it was decided to look at whether properties in Eastcott and the town centre would have a different service as it is not practical for them to have a green bin.
Following the meeting, the Labour Group expressed their frustration that their amendment was not supported.
Group leader Coun Jim Grant (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney) said: “I am disappointed that the Lib Dems and Conservatives did not support our plan but most of all I am disappointed for the people of Swindon.
“The long term future of Swindon should be decided by the people of Swindon. The danger with politicians deciding is that we end up with £15m car parks and money lost on Wi-fi projects. Green waste is something which is already paid for in council tax.”