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Royal Borough accused of 'going too far' with 2019/20 budget savings

A council tax rise of 2.99 per cent was approved by councillors amid accusations that planned savings for the 2019/20 budget ‘went too far’.

Councillors discussed the Royal Borough’s budget during a meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall last night (Tuesday).

The budget includes plans to add £3.5million to the council’s reserves, with the cost of a band D property rising by £27.91 to £961.33 a year as a result.

Leader of the Opposition Cllr Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor) said: “This is a budget that has had to put right the decisions made by the administration in past years.

“Council tax reductions to ‘look good’, decisions that have led to non-achievable savings targets, a reduction in capacity within the council, overspending on projects and projects not being delivered within a timescale.

“We believe the savings go too far,” she added.

Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Bisham and Cookham), tasked with devising the latest budget, said the increasing demand and cost associated with children’s services, adult services and children in care was reflected in the budget.

Other planned investments include £150,000 on improvements at Windsor Guildhall, £200,000 on the new Battlemead Common between Maidenhead and Cookham and £1.9 million on pothole repairs.

Council leader Simon Dudley also drew comparisons between the difference in band D council tax in the Royal Borough compared to neighbouring authority Slough, run by the Labour Party.

He said: “You can live in Slough, working hard, paying your tax, trying to make a better future for yourself.

“Your band D council tax for 2018/19 £1578.53, in the Royal Borough £933.42, that is 70 per cent higher, that is £645.11 difference after tax.

“That is a Labour Party taking your family holiday away from you.”

David Knowles-Leak, chairman of the Maidenhead Constituency Labour Party, hit back by questioning why the council continued to stash money away in its reserves.

He said: “My question around this budget really is why on earth do the reserves need to be set at £11.7 million? What kind of problem do you envisage down the line?”

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