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Single vote breaks stalemate over Cambridgeshire council tax increase

By Ben Comber

County councillors gathered in Shire Hall yesterday (Tuesday) to finally agree on the county's budget for the new financial year.

The decision was passed by the vote of a single councillor, John Hipkin. This swung the outcome on a second proposal in support of the Conservative’s plan to raise council tax by 2 per cent – money which will be ringfenced for social care.

Liberal Democrats proposed a 4 per cent rise in council tax, Labour proposed a 5 per cent rise and UKIP proposed a freeze to council tax. All were voted down.

Councillors initially came close to agreement with 31 voting for the leading Conservative party amendment, and 32 votes against. After a recess, and a suspension of standing orders, the vote was put forward again with independent Cllr Hipkin changing his vote to swing the outcome.

Cllr Hipkin said: “I have voted consistently for the tax increases recommended by the Lib Dems and Labour. That proposal has been tested on several occasions today. It has consistently failed to achieve anything close to a majority. I therefore am now exercised by one question: How today can we achieve a balanced budget? There is only one way I can see that can be achieved and that is with my voting for the Conservative group.

In response, UKIP leader and mayoral candidate Cllr Paul Bullen said: “I am not going to change anything purely because Cllr Hipkin wants to get home to dinner.”

The proposal was carried the second time around with 32 for and 31 against.

On the Tory budget, Cllr Peter Topping said: “The point here is that for many people council taxes are a further inroad into their income.

“We are a party of low taxation. We believe people should have the right to spend their own money, not have it taken from them. This budget amendment takes account of the percentage opportunities on adult social care so it gives [extra funding] but, importantly, takes no more [in tax] than what is needed.”


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