On Tuesday 16 February the Liberal Democrat County group found themselves locked in a long battle of wills against the Conservatives.
After hours of discussions at Shire Hall – Conservatives at the County Council pushed through a budget proposal which failed to take 2% extra in council tax to protect vital services.
In a deal with the Independents on the council, the budget took up a 2% precept offered by government to spend specifically on social care.
But, it failed to commit to protect other services by not raising council taxes by the usual rate.
Roads won’t be maintained, bus services reduced and concessionary bus passes scrapped because the normal raise was not taken.
This relates to a £10m loss of spending over the next two years for the council.
Savage cuts from Conservative government
After savage cuts to local authorities, as well as to offset the introduction of the 'national living wage', authorities are allowed to raise council taxes by an extra 2%.
This is in addition to the usual capped annual raise of 2%.
So 4% in total.
Lib Dems at the council have been making a case to take the extra 2%.
One cup of coffee
The actual implication of an extra 2% of council tax – for an average 'Band D' property owner is...£22 per year (50p a week)
Put another way, services could have been protected at the cost to the taxpayer of one cup of coffee a month.
Instead, we will now have to struggle on with roads unsafe and not maintained , school crossings not patrolled, concessionary bus passes scrapped and bus services curtailed.
Would you have tried to keep your bus service running or your village road maintained for 5op a week?