David Cameron dragged into row over ‘unacceptable’ Labour plans to increase council tax 3.5% in Rochdale

By Jeremy Culley

Prime Minister David Cameron last night found himself in the middle of a row over ‘unacceptable’ Labour plans to increase council tax by 3.5% in Rochdale.

Rochdale Conservative group leader Ashley Dearnley slammed the controlling Labour group for both proposing the hike and maintaining a referendum will not be held – despite one being required for increases of more than 2%.

He addressed the Prime Minister with his concerns at a visit made by Mr Cameron to the North West to meet Conservative leaders.

“I simply asked him for clarity on the issue,” said Cllr Dearnley.

“It is far too much in these difficult economic times. People on low pay – unacceptable when we can’t get bins collected for a month.”

The proposals have not been passed yet and, in theory, should need a referendum to become binding.

The hikes come after bins in Rochdale were not collected at all over Christmas in a desperate council bid to cut costs.

In 2009, before Labour assumed control in the borough, their leader Colin Lambert blasted Liberal Democrat proposals to increase council tax as ‘outrageous’ because of difficult economic climate.

Such concerns have hardly abated since, with the latest figures showing average pay has been slashed, in real terms, by more than 3.5% over the last year.

Cllr Dearnley argues that the cost-cutting measure is not even necessary.

“Actually, the government would give us extra money if we didn’t put tax up,” he said.

The controlling Labour group failed to respond to requests for a comment.

Picture courtesy of Guillame Paumier, with thanks.

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