Thursday 19 April 2012

H&F Labour's Tax Cutting Agenda

Here's a letter I had published in the Guardian in response to one of their articles:

• In your interview with Stephen Greenhalgh (Localism hero, Society, 8 February), you assert that "To Labour, he is a tyrant for keeping council tax low at the expense of frontline services". That is not our view. I'm afraid your article fell into the trap of presenting a caricature of the left-right divide on tax and spend and one that does the local and national debates a disservice. In fact, Labour has supported all council tax cuts in Hammersmith and Fulham and promised a raft of further cuts in all council taxes, should we win control of the council in 2014.
Labour's objection to the Conservatives' tax programme is that they have introduced vast hikes in a range of stealth taxes. Far from keeping taxes low, they have increased or introduced nearly 600 new stealth taxes. If you are elderly or disabled; if you're a local motorist, or even someone who uses a personal trainer in one of our local parks, you have been targeted with extra fees and new charges.
And let's take a moment to unpick Hammersmith and Fulham Conservatives' rhetoric of efficiency you touched on by considering just three of the projects they waste public money on. The Conservative chair of the culture, media and sport parliamentary select committee rapped their knuckles for wasting millions of pounds on "political propaganda". They have been shown to have wasted millions more on unnecessary consultants and, last December, they voted to build £35m worth of new town hall offices, but will gift up to £70m of land to make the deal work.
So maybe this flagship Tory council offers wider lessons for the country. Let's get past the easy left-right stereotypes and examine the real economic and financial choices before us. Financial management of public money matters. In Hammersmith and Fulham Labour is not standing on a tax-and-spend platform. We know where there is waste to be cut and different choices to be made. We will fight the next local elections with those issues at the forefront of our campaign.
Cllr Stephen Cowan
Labour leader of the opposition, councillor for Hammersmith Broadway ward

No comments: