Boston Borough Council's finances are 'not in a dire state'
I WOULD like to address claims being made by former Boston Bypass Independent councillor Richard Lenton regarding Boston Borough Council's finances.
The council's finances are NOT, as he has claimed, in a dire state.
During the four years of BBI rule I did plead for modest increases in council tax – 2.5 to 3 per cent and in line with other Lincolnshire authorities.
The BBI voted these out. Over these four years a 10 per cent gap in the council's funding was allowed to develop and Boston fell 10 per cent behind other county district authorities.
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Now we cannot catch up as the Government has put a cap on council tax, and we have to find significant savings because of the current financial situation nationally.
Despite all this, since the change of administration following the elections in May, 2011, we produced a balanced budget last year and put some savings back.
Working to Government recommendations Boston Borough Council has been so successful that the Audit Commission is now holding us up as a shining example of how a local authority can work within cuts.
The BBI also voted out increases in councillors' allowances – then, as now, by far the lowest in the county and among the very lowest in the country, as recently confirmed by the Taxpayers' Alliance.
The Taxpayers' Alliance report actually reveals that in 2010/11, out of the 435 councils it looked at, the allowance paid to Boston councillors was the fifth lowest in the country, and easily the lowest in Lincolnshire.
Despite an increase for 2011/12 Boston still ranked below 418 other councils out of the 435 examined, and still the lowest in Lincolnshire.
Councillors are in an impossible situation where their allowances are concerned. I would advocate that they don't vote on their own allowances and that these are actually set by the Independent Remuneration Panel. This would also level the playing field among councils up and down the country – the whole point of the recent Taxpayers' Alliance report.
Peter Bedford, Leader, Boston Borough Council