With inflation running at less than one per cent the Isle of Wight Council this week agreed a 4.99 per cent increase in council tax. All Conservatives voted in favour of the massive tax hike, but one lone Tory voted for an amendment from Labour supporting independent councillor Geoff Brodie that would have capped the rise at 1.99 per cent.
Speaking after the meeting, Newport North councillor Matthew Price said: “I would have loved Cllr Brodie’s amendment to succeed. I don’t agree with everything he says, but it was a well-researched and courageous attempt to get the lowest possible council tax increase.
“I couldn’t vote for the other parties’ budgets. I mean nothing negative about their efforts, but they would also have led to a 4.99 per cent increase with different options thrown in. I go into every single meeting with an open mind and vote with my conscience, balancing the realities with the options in front of me.
Islanders are hurting financially; the pandemic has hit them hard. Any way of helping the hardest hit deserved support. I will struggle to find the money to pay this rise myself – and many people across my ward and the Island will be dismayed and find paying anything extra painful.
“When making cuts to things such as the library service and increasing overnight parking charges, it’s hard to justify such things as upgrading or replacing the air conditioning at County Hall. Even though it’s from a different budget, Islanders will struggle to see why this kind of item is a priority.”
Cllr Brodie’s amendment lost by 16 votes to 21 and Cllr Price then voted with his Conservative colleagues for the ruling administration’s budget, something he says was ‘really, really difficult to do’. He explained: “We must have a legally sound budget in place and I rarely abstain when it comes to a vote. With local elections soon it would be wrong not to leave the finances in order for the new administration, whoever that will be.”
Cllr Brodie said: “Once again the County Hall Tories, with one exception, showed how cynically uncaring they are about the struggles of ordinary people both in recent years and now in the fallout from the pandemic.”