9 February 2017
Bradford Green Party has called on Theresa May to outline what arrangements will be made for Bradford Council in light of the sweetheart deal with Surrey which has led to the cancellation of a local referendum on raising council taxes to pay for social care.
Theresa May was asked SIX TIMES at PMQs about what deal had been offered to the Tory-run council in one of the most affluent parts of the country and whether other councils in the North – like Bradford – would be offered similar deals.
The Prime Minister asked to clarify a series of texts from David Hodge in which the Surrey County Council which indicated a deal had been done with the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The source of the text messages is unknown but it is believed they were intended for a government adviser – but where instead sent to someone else.
The final text says: “… the numbers you indicated are the numbers that I understand are acceptable for me to accept and call off the R[eferendum] …”
Cllr Hawarun Hussain has said “Bradford Council is under severe pressure to cut costs which inevitably means cutting jobs and services. If Bradford is to get a deal like the one in Surrey we need to know soon to safeguard council services”
Surrey Council was planning to hold a referendum on a 15% rise in council tax to pay for the increasing costs of social care which was unexpectedly cancelled earlier this week.
David Hodge had been very critical of his party’s government for the savage cuts to council’s budgets. It would have caused further embarrassment for senior Conservatives as both the Chancellor Philip Hammond and health secretary Jeremy Hunt represent constituencies in Surrey.
Many Councils are under severe pressure to increase Council Tax in order to make up shortfalls in central government funding. Bradford Council has announced it intends to recommend increase rates by 4.99% - the statutory maximum. This will be confirmed at the next Full Council meeting on 23 February 2017.
Bradford Council has cut £218 million from its budget over the last 6 years and it is estimated that a further £82 million of cuts will have to be found by 2020, on top of further increases in Council tax.