The Labour leader of Plymouth City Council has labelled a Tory MP’s campaign to freeze council tax a “scam” as he has voted in Parliament for deep cuts to the authority’s budget.
Councillor Tudor Evans, leader of the Labour-controlled authority, has taken Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, to task as he has “consistently voted against more money” for the city.
His comments come after Chancellor George Osborne urged Plymouth City Council not to increase the charge after he pledged to spare councils from more budget cuts in his autumn statement.
In a stern rebuke, Labour has asked the Tory MP to explain how he squares his campaign with voting for a £30 million cut to the Plymouth City Council budget over the last three years, and a further £64.5 million reduction for the next three years.
Coun Evans said: “Mr Colvile has consistently voted against more money for Plymouth.
“That’s less money for potholes, less money for transport, less money for adult social care and less money for social services.
“People will see through his latest campaign because it is a scam that seeks to blame others for his actions.
“The reason the city council has been forced to raise council tax is because of the cuts Mr Colvile voted for that has seen the council’s budget cut by £30 million since his Government came to power, with a further £64.5million to budget for over the coming three.”
Luke Pollard, Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, added the MP’s campaign is “political smoke and mirrors”.
He said: “Mr Colvile is underestimating the people of Plymouth if he thinks that they will forget that it is the Government that he supports imposing savage cuts on local authorities; this cynical campaign does not make up for the fact that he voted for huge cuts to vital council budgets.
“Mr Colvile needs to be under no doubt that going to Westminster and voting for massive cuts for vital services in Plymouth, and then campaigning against those same cuts in Plymouth is not acceptable and his constituents expect more from their representative.
“Oliver Colvile needs to make a choice as to whether he is on the side of his constituents or his party leadership – he cannot do both.”
Labour wants the MP to campaign for parity of funding between Plymouth and Portsmouth on public health – claiming Plymouth gets £30 per person less than the rival dockyard city – and to oppose any further cuts in local government funding.
The Plymouth council this year hiked the charge by 2%, meaning householders in a typical band D property will pay around £1,507 in total. Next year’s budget is due in February.
In the House of Commons on Thursday, Mr Colvile said local authorities “no longer need to increase council tax”.
The Chancellor replied: “Plymouth council absolutely should freeze council tax. I commend his and his constituents for their campaign to make that happen.
“If his council does not deliver a council tax freeze, he can ask Labour why it is putting up the cost of living for his constituents.”