Westminster Council offers mayor Ken a lesson in balance
I would like to bring the Mayor Ken Livingstone s attention to Westminster City Council s decision to freeze council tax levels – and offer an extension of our services to him with regard to excellent financial management. As Mr Livingstone will no doubt
I would like to bring the Mayor Ken Livingstone's attention to Westminster City Council's decision to freeze council tax levels - and offer an extension of our services to him with regard to excellent financial management.
As Mr Livingstone will no doubt be aware, the council has been awarded the highest accolades from the Audit Commission over recent years with regard to the standards of our frontline services, financial management and the value for money we offer our residents. It does strike me that, given Mr Livingstone's own track record of GLA council tax precept increases over the same period of time, we may well be able to offer him some advice.
Westminster City Council has decided upon a zero council tax increase for 2008/09 - a decision we can take safe in the knowledge of the council's strong financial footing and our ability to offer services of the very highest calibre. This will mean that, over the last four years, Band D council tax set by the council has increased by just £14 or four per cent, whereas during the same time the GLA precept has increased at a rate five times higher than this, by a total of £50 or 20 per cent.
Westminster residents are now in the highly unfortunate position of paying almost as much of their council tax - some 45 per cent - to the GLA as they do to the council providing their local services.
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I am acutely aware that all of us holding office in London are facing ever tighter fiscal settlements, but through our expert financial handling, drives for efficiency and unwavering commitment to innovation and excellence, I can reliably recommend a council tax freeze without compromising council services.
I am confident that Westminster would have much to offer Mr Livingstone and please, for the sake of London's council tax payers, do let me know if we can be of assistance. I look forward to hearing from him.
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Cllr Colin Barrow
Westminster City Council