Liberal Democrats unveil recession-busting plan to freeze Haringey Council Tax

Haringey Council should give residents a £3 million boost next year by freezing Council Tax say local Liberal Democrats.

At the launch of their ten-point plan to help residents and business during the recession, Cllr Robert Gorrie and Lynne Featherstone MP said that the Labour-run council should be doing more to help people at this difficult time without cutting front-line services.

The Liberal Democrat proposals include easing the burden on residents by freezing Council Tax in 2009, helping small businesses by cutting the time Haringey Council takes to pay invoices and the development of an apprentice programme within Haringey Council to help local people find employment.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, Liberal Democrat leader, comments:

“We all know that many local people and businesses are finding it difficult to cope in the current economic climate.

“Haringey Council should be doing much more to help residents and local companies and we urge them to adopt the concrete proposals we have set out today.

“Proposals such as freezing Council Tax and paying suppliers faster will provide real pounds in the pockets of people and companies.”

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green adds:

“Haringey Council are failing to help residents in Haringey struggling against the effects of the recession.

“Our plan shows where Labour is lacking – real action for local residents.”

The ten point plan

  1. Provide employment: establish clear council objectives for the proportion Haringey residents should make up of council staff (it is currently just 36%, compared with 60% in schools) and also of the workforce of suppliers to Haringey Council working on major projects such as Decent Homes and Building Schools for the Future.
  2. Financial support: no Council Tax increase for 2009/10 – which would put more than £3m back into the pockets of Haringey residents.
  3. Advice and training: establish a Haringey Skills Centre to focus on apprenticeships, retraining and long term worklessness. Using existing facilities and by prioritising the work of existing staff, increase the number of apprentices taken on by Haringey Council, encourage Homes for Haringey to extend their scheme and work with major suppliers to extend the apprentice schemes available to staff working on Haringey projects.
  4. Help business: commit Haringey Council to a 10% increase in the proportion of council expenditure spent with Haringey based businesses. This would be worth many millions of pounds to the local economy. Review all procurement and supplier selection to ensure no inbuilt bias to larger suppliers and include the multiplier effect of local expenditure on the local economy when evaluating competing bids for value for money.
  5. Business support: provide council support for “shop local” campaigns. Identify ways to provide free parking on specific evenings or weekends in the main shopping areas of Haringey. Help introduce loyalty card schemes in areas such as Muswell Hill and Wood Green using the Crouch End model.
  6. Financial support for businesses: cut the time to pay invoices to Haringey’s small businesses from 30 to 10 days to help small firms improve cash flow.
  7. Business advice: encourage small business rate relief by targeting those businesses currently not claiming.
  8. Engagement: ask residents and business what help they need. Different communities and sectors of business will need different kinds of help and have different needs. Use Area Assemblies and use established business links to develop priorities for individual communities and business sectors.
  9. Accountability: establish clear political and officer accountability for the delivery of actions, publish that accountability and review progress with the different communities and business sectors on a regular basis.
  10. Leadership: give the Enterprise Partnership Board something real to do by making this existing cross agency body, already led by Haringey Council, responsible for co-ordinating and leading the response of the various agencies, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Jobcentre Plus, involved in supporting residents and business through the recession.