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PM slams Dudley's Labour rulers

First published in News

DAVID Cameron has waded into the Dudley Council election debate by taking a swipe at the Labour-run authority.

The Conservative Prime Minister highlighted council tax rates in a message to Dudley’s voters ahead of local and European elections on Thursday May 22.

Mr Cameron’s Tory-led coalition pays councils a grant to subsidise a nil increase in council tax and has capped increases above two per cent without approval from borough residents.

He said: “Meanwhile, Labour councils are still addicted to overspending and to gimmicks – like here in Dudley, where the council spent thousands of pounds on holding a referendum essentially asking whether there should be a referendum on increasing council tax.”

Mr Cameron’s comments refer to a survey by Dudley Council in late 2012 when people were asked whether they would support an increase above two per cent.

Unsurprisingly the people of Dudley rejected a large increase and Labour claimed the £6,000 consultation had saved £350,000 – because they now knew there would be no point holding a more expensive referendum.

Dudley’s Conservative Group, which currently holds 24 of the authority’s 72 seats, has already committed to a zero increase in council tax if they take control this year.

The group has also pledged to introduce a five year residency test for new applicants for council housing and scrap short term parking charges in town centres.

Dudley’s Labour leaders blame Mr Cameron’s government for black holes in their budgets which mean cuts to services but have pledged not to “take any more money from the pockets of hard-working Dudley residents”.

Councillor Pete Lowe, Dudley deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “In 2010/11 we were receiving over £196 million in mainstream government grants and this will have been reduced to around £133 million by 2015/16, which represents a reduction of more than £60 million.”

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