Taxpayers should know how their cash is spent

North Wales Weekly News - - POLITICS/ OPINIONS - BY JANET FINCHSAUNDERS AM

HOUSE­HOLDS in Conwy are £661 worse off un­der Welsh Labour as a re­sult of their fail­ure to im­ple­ment the coun­cil tax freezes that I have been call­ing for since be­ing elected as an Assem­bly Mem­ber in 2011.

I raised this mes­sage with my Welsh Con­ser­va­tive col­league in lead­ing our op­po­si­tion de­bate last week in the Senedd, Cardiff Bay.

Dur­ing our Public Ser­vices and Coun­cil Tax de­bate, put for­ward by my­self as Shadow Min­ster for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, I also called on the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to over­see a new era of trans­parency and open­ness in lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

One of my key pri­or­i­ties in my role, is en­sur­ing that taxpayers’ money is spent fairly and prop­erly, with key­words for me be­ing ‘open­ness’, ‘trans­parency’, and above all, ‘ac­count­abil­ity’.

For me, it is of vi­tal im­por­tance that you, as taxpayers, are able to scru­ti­nise how your money is spent; there­fore, I am call­ing for Lo­cal Author­i­ties to pro­vide coun­cil taxpayers with a clear and ac­ces­si­ble break­down of how their money is spent; for open public meet­ings prior to a Coun­cil bud­get be­ing set, and for all Lo­cal Author­i­ties to pub­lish all ex­pen­di­ture – as Con­ser­va­tive-led Mon­mouthshire Coun­cil do.

Frus­trat­ingly, the con­se­quen­tials be­ing handed down from Westminster to the Welsh Labour Gov­ern­ment to be used to freeze coun­cil tax, has in­stead been spent on in­ef­fec­tual eco­nomic stim­u­lus projects, in­clud­ing the Young Re­cruits Pro­gramme, Skills Growth Wales, cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in schools, Ely Mill Hous­ing Pro­ject, so­cial hous­ing, en­ter­prise zones and Arbed.

Thanks to the Welsh Labour Gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to freeze coun­cil tax, the av­er­age Band D house­hold in Wales has been left £546 worse off over the course of the Fourth Assem­bly alone – in Conwy, this is an even higher £661!

I strongly be­lieve that you, the peo­ple of Wales, know best how to spend your money.

A coun­cil tax freeze would be a huge boost to the lo­cal econ­omy, and I want to put money back into your pock­ets.

The crip­pling coun­cil tax rises of 168% that we have seen un­der this Welsh Labour Gov­ern­ment have failed to de­liver in­no­va­tive public ser­vices, open and trans­par­ent spend­ing and value for money across lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

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