• Alex Aitken

Cuts, Closures and a Council Tax Hike – SOTCC Budget 2022

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It is that time of year again when Stoke-on-Trent’s Conservative Councillors take to the pages of the local newspaper and the radio waves to talk of “the tough decisions” they have to make as part of the annual City Council budget setting process.

This year is no different. But while the Conservative’s tell you they have no choice…that’s not true.

They have chosen to stay quiet while the Conservative Government starved our City of funding. They chose silence in support of cuts rather than speaking out against them. This is a budget of their own design because of the choices they made and the Government they support.

We, however, don’t have to sit in silence. We can make your voice heard too by going to Budget 2022 to 2023 | Stoke-on-Trent and having your say on this budget.

At first glance, the 7th budget being proposed by Councillor Abi Brown – the Conservative Leader of the Council and the councillor responsible for the City’s finances – looks terrible. It is a catalogue of cuts and closures all wrapped up in, yet another, Council Tax rise.

But on closer inspection, it is even worse that it initially seems – with deeply unpleasant policy changes designed to reduce spending by the Council at the expense of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our City. It is a savage attack on our cultural heritage and it lacks any ambition other than managed decline of our City.

A quick over view of how the Conservatives place to fill the £7.1m gap in their coffers:

  • A 7th Council Tax increase, adding £284.62 to Council Tax in Stoke-on-Trent*. (And that’s before the Conservative Police Commissioner adds their bill!)

  • The scrapping of the whole ‘Meals on Wheels’ service, saving £98,000. The City Council is recommending that older, vulnerable people use local cafes instead.

  • Closing the Children’s Centres in Norton, Blurton and Meir.

  • Cutting the local centres in Stoke, Tunstall and Longton – trying to redirect residents to call or email the council. Even though the time taken to answer a call can be up to 45 minutes and the local centres help bring footfall into the towns.

  • Cutting £60,000 out of the Children Mental Health Support.

  • Reducing the opening hours of libraries.

  • Closing Gladstone Museum for 5 months a year.

  • Cutting the opening hours of the Potteries Museum by 2 days a week.

  • Council Tenants will also see their rents go up.

This is just this years cuts – over the last seven years the Conservatives have closed public toilets, increased parking charges, reneged on their promise to improve bus links in the City, introduced collection fees for brown bins, cut back adult social care and raided the budgets of every school in the City. And they’ve wasted thousands of pounds on expensive consultants to give them advice on what services to cut!

And yet while we all pay more and services close down, the Council is building new car parks costing millions of pounds. Stoke-on-Trent Conservatives have got their priorities wrong and we’re all paying the price!

*An average Band D property as calculated by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
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