Tory waste behind Council Tax rises

March 9, 2022 8:39 AM

Conservative Surrey County Council and Police and Crime Commissioner increase Band D council tax by £87, Liberal Democrat run Mole Valley by less than £5.

£50 million property losses at Surrey

Receipt ()Conservative-run Surrey County Council has imposed a 5% increase in its council tax precept, while admitting it has lost £50 million on commercial property investments outside Surrey. In answer to questions from Lib Dem councillors, the Council admitted that the Malvern Retail Park, bought for £75m in 2017, is worth just £38m, and a Debenhams store in Winchester bought for £15.8 million is now valued at just £6.25m.

Lib Dem Mole Valley receives just 9% of local council taxes collected, and an even smaller share of local business rates, so local residents and businesses get great value for their money. This year our basic Government grant will be just £1.3 million, the lowest for any principal council in the country.

Meanwhile, despite Government requiring the use of technical consultants as a condition of many funding bids, the Council has significantly reduced the amount spent on consultants compared with the previous Conservative-led administration. The total amount spent by Mole Valley on consultants over the last three complete years was as follows:

2018/19: £902,000 (Conservative-led administration)
2019/20: £424,000 (Conservative budget, incoming Lib Dem administration)
2020/21: £233,000 (Lib Dem administration)

A 17% budget rise for PCC's own office

Police ()Tory Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend has increased council tax, and drawn on precious reserves to hire more communications staff, as well as a deputy costing £70,000 pa, to promote her own role.

Surrey Police meanwhile will be forced to target an increased 8% vacancy rate. This means 50 less PCSOs, investigating/forensic officers, and 999/101 call operators than it needs to tackle performance issues - such as a solved burglary rate of just 3.5% last year, and an average 101 call waiting time in December of nearly 5 minutes.

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