Bins, parking and council tax: Manchester council approves budget

Manchester Town Hall has set a budget which will see council tax increase, more money to tackle litter and new residential parking schemes created.

Councilors approved a 3 per cent hike in council tax, in addition to the increases set by Greater Manchester, and a 4.1 pc rise in rent for its council housing tenants.

A last minute Labor amendment was made to allocate more money to tackle flytipping, clean streets more regularly and provide more public litter bins.

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A new residential parking scheme is set to be introduced in Ancoats using £4m from cash the council has received through developments in the area.

But the Lib Dem calls to spend £3m of reserves on road safety and traffic calming schemes, parks and basic services such as street cleaning were rejected.

Council leader Bev Craig, who took over the role from Sir Richard Leese less than 100 days ago, said the budget was set in the context of a decade of cuts.

She said: “We set out measures that we will take that deal with the crisis of now and plans as best we can for tomorrow.

“But it’s not enough and we will not rest in this chamber until we have a government that gives Manchester what it needs to do the best for our city.”

Three amendments were tabled at the budget meeting on Friday (March 4) by councilors representing wards which have changed hands at recent elections.

Labor councillor Majid Dar said residents in Ancoats and Beswick, which the ruling group lost at a by-election last month, often report parking problems.

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His amendment to introduce a new residential parking scheme in the Ancoats area unanimously approved after being endorsed by the Lib Dems and Greens.

Woodhouse Park councilor Sarah Judge proposed another amendment which calls on the council to allocate more money to flytipping and street cleaning.

She said: “Residents quite rightly question why volunteers are clearing flytipping and litter when year on year they see their council tax rise.

Manchester City Council Leader Bev Craig

“We argue that this is due to years of austerity and cuts to the council budget.

“But I think, as a council, we have a duty to our residents to get the basics right.

“So I want to see enough money in this budget for more bins across my ward and for flytipping to be dealt with like the serious offense that it is, while seeking to address the underlying reasons that flytipping happens in the first place.”

The amendment, which was seconded by Didsbury West councilor Debbie Hillal, is funded by the Improving Basic Services and Street Cleaning pot.

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It calls for £100,000 to be put towards tackling flytipping and taking ‘rigorous enforcement action against flytippers’ and a further £300,000 to allow for more regular street cleaning and provide more litter bins across the city.

But a Lib Dem amendment, put forward by newly-elected Ancoats and Beswick councilor Alan Good, was resoundingly rejected at the meeting.

The Lib Dems were accused of repeatedly recommending spending reserves with councilors criticizing the proposal from the opposition as ‘irresponsible’.

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Speaking at his first council meeting, Coun Good said: “Valid criticism seems to be dismissed here as party political point scoring all while councilors hypnotically repeat the same lines over and over. I suppose though what else is there to do in this chamber than agree with each other despite the failings.”

The budget was approved with the two Labor amendments agreed by all.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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