Oxford Mail:

Liz Brighouse, Labour Oxfordshire County Councillor for Churchill & Lye Valley 

We live in a representative democracy and on November 3 councillors representing every community in Oxfordshire voted unanimously to ask the Government to remove the requirement to have a referendum in order to raise council tax beyond 1.99 per cent.

So every councillor on Oxfordshire County Council believes that we need to have a higher council tax in order to fund vital services.

The problems setting the budget arise from:

* Being a low spending authority over many years

* The Revenue Support Grant from the Government being reduced by almost 50 per cent since 2011 Council tax being capped

* The increased number of children in need of care and protection

* Elderly people needing support to enable them to carry out the most basic tasks

* The number of people with learning or physical disabilities who need help to have a better life has risen. The council tax system itself is unfair. However, it is the only way local authorities can raise the money to meet local needs. The system is in urgent need of reform to better reflect people’s ability to pay.

The Government is committed to reducing public expenditure and the services it funds. In the last five years around 3,000 people who have worked for Oxfordshire have lost their jobs.

Some have been back office staff who support frontline services to work efficiently and effectively, but others have been the frontline people like youth workers and librarians.

We cannot cut any more and the only place to go is to increase the council tax.

I hope the people of Oxfordshire will rise to the challenge and not walk by on the other side as services are cut to the most vulnerable.

The Labour group will use any opportunity it can to stop the cuts.


Oxford Mail:

Gordon Roper, Garsington resident

No, I do not think we should be paying more council tax for the county council budget, the Government has already cut spending back so much.

I find Oxfordshire County Council seems to waste its money hand over fist.

Every month there is a different consultation for something, which all costs money, and we never seem to see the results of them. That would be a start to saving money, so we would not have to pay more on our council taxes.

If the council did not put all its energy into these unnecessary consultations – that never seem to get published – that money could go back into the pot.

That money could help with balancing the budget and ultimately help with the cuts to children centres and the elderly centres.

They also make council officers redundant to save costs but then they seem to re-employ them a few weeks or months later. It is not going to help save money if they pay them redundancy and then employ them back later.

For the services we get, another two per cent on top of our council taxes, for the average band D household, it may not seem a lot. But when people are struggling to make ends meet already it can make all the difference to them.

The main concern for me is the health and children centres plus police and emergency services.

There are people at the moment that really just have to cut their cloth thin and cut back on a lot of things.

I do not see why we should have to keep cutting back and really lowering our quality of life, especially when so many cannot cut down much more.