Taxes and services in leader race spotlight

AVDC offices, The Gateway, Aylesbury
AVDC offices, The Gateway, Aylesbury

Council tax increases may be needed in the future, one of the men vying to lead the district council has said.

Councillor Neil Blake, cabinet member for resources, said tax hikes may be necessary to fund projects that will benefit residents.

Mr Blake, Michael Edmonds and Phil Yerby are believed to be the only people running in the leadership race. The winner will be announced at next Wednesday’s Aylesbury Vale District Council full meeting following a vote by Conservatives.

Mr Blake said: “There may be situations where we have to look at council tax. There may be reasons to ask residents for additional funding if it means they benefit.”

Mr Blake said he may reduce the number of cabinet members to make the council more efficient, and that there may need to be service cuts to ensure the authority survives when government grants are further reduced.

He said: “I want to find out what services we are providing and why. It could be we are providing services that are not of great value to residents.”

Mr Edmonds, the current deputy leader, said the council needs to find new ways of raising income so it can maintain services.

He said one way of doing this would be for the council to use experts it employs to sell consultancy services to people and businesses.

Mr Edmonds said: “Why shouldn’t we say to the public: ‘If you want that sort of advice we have got to charge X pounds an hour for it’.

“We should try to make full and better use of the services we have.”

Mr Yerby, a former cabinet member, says he would bring ‘a fresh approach and innovation’ to the leadership.

If elected, he has promised there will be no council tax increases for at least the next two years.

He says it will be possible to fund these freezes by using incentives to encourage council staff to find new ways of saving money.

All three candidates have said job creation and growth will be among their top priorities.

The race has been sparked by Councillor John Cartwright’s decision to resign from the role after 13 years at the helm.