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Camden finance chief tells Ed Balls: ‘Forget mansion tax and reform council tax’

PUBLISHED: 10:54 14 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:54 14 November 2014

Cllr Theo Blackwell.

Cllr Theo Blackwell.

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Camden’s finance chief has called on the shadow chancellor to show some “bravery” by pushing for radical council tax reform instead of his controversial mansion tax.

Labour's shadow chancellor Ed Balls. Picture: PA Wire/Yui Mok.Labour's shadow chancellor Ed Balls. Picture: PA Wire/Yui Mok.

Cllr Theo Blackwell told the Ham&High that it would be a “better bet” for Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls to reform council tax banding rather than introducing a tax on all £2million-plus homes should Labour come to power next year.

It is the first time a senior Labour councillor in Camden has publicly given a verdict on the mansion tax.

Last month, the Labour group refused to be drawn on the issue when asked by the Ham&High, insisting they were awaiting the “full detail of the proposals”.

Speaking after Monday’s full council meeting, where the Conservative group forwarded a motion asking for the council to lobby against the mansion tax, Cllr Blackwell said: “We need bravery from national politicians of all political parties to bite the bullet and reform local property tax.

“Rather than introducing new taxes, to address the problem that is actually at the root, we need fundamental reform.

“If an alien were to land on our planet, they would observe some very strange things. One of them would be, ‘Why do we have a property tax system based on prices in 1991?’”

At Monday’s meeting, Camden Conservative leader Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland forwarded a motion asking the council to follow Hammersmith and Fulham’s Labour council in agreeing to lobby against their party’s mansion tax plans.

She said: “It makes some of our more elderly and vulnerable residents very scared about what they are going to do and how they are going to cope.

“We wanted to give you the opportunity in Camden to show our residents that, regardless of what your national party is saying in the press, each of you individually is prepared to come out and make a stand for the older and more vulnerable people and anyone else who lives in this borough and have articulated their concerns.”

The motion was rejected by the Labour majority, which voted in favour of an amendment forwarded by Cllr Richard Olszewski scrapping plans to lobby against the tax and calling for a “national reform of local property taxes”.

Labour councillor Angela Pober, of West Hampstead ward, abstained from the vote. She told the Ham&High there wasn’t “any substance” in the mansion tax and it “wouldn’t work”.

Anarchist group Class War has announced plans for a ‘Pay Your Bloody Tax’ march through Hampstead on December 6 in response to the anti-mansion tax campaign.

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