Agenda item

Council Tax Setting for 2015-16


(a)       That the resolutions detailed in Appendix A to the report be approved; and


(b)       That the Police Crime & Commissioner for North Wales be invited to attend a future meeting of the County Council to enable discussion on the precept.


The recommendation in the report was formally moved and seconded by Councillors Aaron Shotton and Bernie Attridge.


The Corporate Finance Manager presented the report to formally set the Council Tax for 2015-16 and agree the statutory resolutions for the purpose of administering Council Tax and Non-Domestic Rates.  The Council Tax resolution included elements relating to the County Council, Police & Crime Commissioner for North Wales and all Town/Community Councils.  The Council Tax charges/levels detailed in the report had been approved as part of the Council Fund Revenue Budget 2015-16 at the previous County Council meeting.


On behalf of the Conservative group, Councillor Nigel Steele-Mortimer advised that it intended to oppose the recommendation, as sufficient funds had been made available to the Welsh Government (WG) to support a ‘freeze’ on Council Tax.


Councillor Ian Dunbar referred to the expectation on Councils to help reduce all elements of the precept for residents, for example where representations made to the Fire Authority had resulted in a reduction to its precept.  However, despite a similar approach made to the Police & Crime Commissioner for North Wales, whose precept was amongst the highest, a similar outcome had not been achieved, with no explanation given on the level of resources needed and diversion of reserves.  Councillor Dunbar stressed the importance of the Council making representations to the Police & Crime Commissioner on the impact of its precept, particularly in view of there being no apparent benefit to residents such as additional Police officers in the locality.


Councillor Mike Peers agreed that these issues needed to be followed up.  Whilst he said it was too late at this stage, he suggested that this should be explored further by inviting the Police & Crime Commissioner to a meeting of the Council as part of budget planning for 2016-17.


In agreement with both Members, Councillor Paul Shotton referred to concerns raised by a leading North Wales Police Association Member on the reduction in Police numbers and called into question the adequate use of resources available to the Police & Crime Commissioner.


Councillor Chris Bithell spoke about the practice in previous years for determination of the Police precept to take account of recommendations made by the Council’s representative on the Police Authority.  However, this was no longer the case.


A request was made by Councillor Alison Halford for details of the amount paid to the Police & Crime Commissioner for North Wales out of the precept, which she had seen in a report to the Audit Committee.  The Chief Executive explained that this was derived from a direct UK Government grant.


Councillor Alex Aldridge proposed that Mr. Winston Roddick, the Police & Crime Commissioner for North Wales be invited to a future meeting to discuss the precept.  This was seconded by Councillor Attridge.


Clarification was sought by the Chief Executive on whether Members wished to invite Mr. Roddick to a future meeting of full Council as he was already scheduled to attend a future Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting.  Councillor Aldridge confirmed this to be his proposal.


Councillor Richard Jones referred to £113m of additional funding allocated by WG to the Health Service, none of which had been passed onto local government.  He expressed his disappointment that this had not been allocated to Councils as this could have been used better to financially benefit people across Wales.


Councillor Gareth Roberts felt that some constituents would support an increase in Council Tax at this stage to help to protect important services, noting that a rise of 5% would still be below the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA).


In summing up, Councillor Aaron Shotton conveyed his disappointment in the comments made by Councillor Steele-Mortimer as there had been ample opportunity for all Members’ input on Council Tax as part of the budget consultation process for 2015/16 and at the previous full Council meeting.  Whilst respecting submissions made by any political group, he said that this could not be acceptable at this stage in the process.  In support of the proposal by Councillor Aldridge, he agreed that accountability and scrutiny of the Police & Crime Commissioner precept was pertinent and referred to the increase in precepts set by some Town/Community Councils.


On being put to the vote, the recommendation in the report, as moved and seconded earlier, was carried.




(a)       That the resolutions detailed in Appendix A to the report be approved; and


(b)       That the Police Crime & Commissioner for North Wales be invited to attend a future meeting of the County Council to enable discussion on the precept.

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