VALE of Glamorgan Council’s budget for next year has been roundly rejected in an “unprecedented” scenario.
The Conservative-minority council’s financial plan was voted down 25-18 – with Tory backbenchers refusing to back their own party’s plan.
They were united in anger with Labour and Plaid Cymru over planned hikes in Council Tax and use of reserve funds to fill their money gap.
The Tory rebels at Wednesday’s full council meeting included former Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies as well as George Carroll, Janice Charles and Vincent Bailey.
Leader of the Plaid Cymru group in the Vale, Counillor Ian Johnson, said: “The failure of the leading Conservative group to get their Budget passed is quite unprecedented in my experience and I wait to hear proposals when the Vale Council meets again to debate.”
Whilst reasons varied, the most vocal disagreement was over how the council aimed to use £2m of the Vale’s £13.6m reserve funds to prop up their budget for 2019/20 and £1m for 2020/21.
The Labour leader in the Vale, Coun Neil Moore, said using reserve funds to meet budget shortfalls would set “a dangerous precedent.”
While Labour opposed the use of reserve funds, Plaid Cymru’s opposition argued for a smaller rise with greater use of these reserves.
Since 2010, Vale of Glamorgan council has had to cut £55m from their budget and have to make a further £3.7m in savings over the next financial year.
During the meeting Council leader John Thomas stated they had met 86 per cent of their savings targets, but had fallen short of the planned £6.29m cut by £724,000.
Part of the Labour bloc, Penarth Coun Neil Thomas said: “We voted against because, looking at their performance over the last two years, we have no confidence whatsoever in them delivering the savings they claim. Which means that they will have to drain the reserves to the point where no cushion is in place for future emergencies.”
‘They’re are reducing services and increasing Council Tax for residents who are struggling’
In order to meet their spending commitments and statutory spending requirements, Vale Council had also planned to increase Council Tax share by the maximum 4.99 per cent.
Barry resident, Julia Brunskill said: “There have been new builds flying up over the last few years and many more new builds to come.
“They gain new Council Tax payments from all of those, are reducing services and wish to increase the Council Tax from residents who are struggling – and in an area where universal credit has been rolled out.”
Coun Ian Johnson said at the meeting: “I blame Westminster and Cardiff Bay.
“They need to look at what services they want us to provide and give us the funding.”
The Council will now hold an extraordinary meeting by Friday, March 8, as they have until March 11 to set the new rate of Council Tax they need to pass a budget.