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1.75% rise in Lewisham council tax recommended at cuts meeting
LEWISHAM'S mayor recommended a council tax increase of 1.75 per cent last night as he abandoned or postponed a number of controversial budget cuts.
Mindful of the need for riot police at a previous budget meeting in 2010, security was beefed up at Catford town hall where Sir Steve Bullock and his cabinet met to discuss £21.8m of cuts - on top of £56m savings made in previous years.
But in the end there were no protestors and not even any opposition councillors present. Instead, just a handful of people watched from the public gallery as cabinet members failed to raise a single question or comment on the proposals, which must now be approved by the full council.
Introducing the topic, cabinet member for resources Councillor Paul Maslin said: "We've moved from a situation where we could protect the frontline but now the scale of the cuts is such that can no longer do that."
And Labour leader Councillor Alan Hall criticised proposals to reduce street cleaning, axe play clubs and decrease funding for local assemblies.
Sir Steve postponed a decision on the funding of Generation play clubs until next year for talks to hand them over to another organisation, saying: "There's a further year, during which it hopefully will be possible to find some other solution."
Cuts to local assemblies were reduced, so that each keeps a £15,000 pot of money - they currently get £18,750 - while proposals to make street sweeping fortnightly or monthly were rejected.
The council's call centre will be protected while administration fees for the blue badge scheme were abandoned.
But Sir Steve's decision means things like reviewing school meal prices, downsizing the borough's community safety service and increasing bereavement fees have all been recommended for approval.
He finished by saying: "My recommendation to council will be that we increase the Lewisham council tax by 1.75 per cent."
Council tax is due to be discussed again at another mayor and cabinet meeting next Wednesday.