Cllr Jon Hubbard

Wiltshire Councillor for Melksham South

Serving the community across Melksham

Cllr Jon Hubbard

Wiltshire and Town Councillor for Melksham South

Working hard across the Melksham Community

Melksham residents will be coming to terms with the different proposals for dealing with the next year's budget both the Town and the County over the next few weeks.

The Town Council has already made it's decision, a rise in the Precept of 1.5%. This was a difficult decision and I thought long and hard about whether it was fair to ask Melksham residents to pay more again this year, especially after the significant rise imposed last year. Whilst there was a financial gap between the proposed expenditure of the council and what the income would be without a rise, this gap was just a few thousand pounds, and could easily have been found (in my opinion) from additional savings within the existing council budget. Therefore I voted against this rise.

On Wiltshire Council the numbers are significantly bigger. In fact, the starting point has been finding ways to cover a gap of some £37 million!

For four years Wiltshire has enjoyed a council tax freeze, but this has come at a cost.

New ways of finding savings have been explored, last year I proposed a new 'paperless' way of working for councillors that is now saving over £100,000 every year for instance.

However, this year finding enough money to cover all of the savings required has been impossible and for me, some of the cuts being proposed by the ruling Conservative Group are just unacceptable.

Plans for a new Garden Waste Tax, scrapping the WIltshire Hopper (RUH Bus Service) and Wiltshire Music School are some of the most unpalitable of the Conservative Plans.

That's why I will not be supporting the Conservative Proposals next Tuesday and have proposed an alterative, which will see a minimal rise in Council Tax accross the county of just 45p per week for Band D properties (just 15p per week for the smallest homes in our county).

The income from this will fund keeping the free Garden Waste Collections (with collections suspended in December, January and February), protecting the Wiltshire Hopper, Wiltshire Music Services, Concessionary Fares, Arts Grants and many other important council run services.

Below is a letter I have sent to the local papers explaining my position. As always, I am quite happy to meet with and discuss my views on this with any local resident - just get in touch if you would like to discuss this with me.


I have been contacted by many residents over the last week expressing concern and anger at the Conservative's proposals for the introduction of a new Garden Waste Tax in Wiltshire.

Like them, I am outraged by this ill thought through proposal that will result in increased fly-tipping, higher land-fill tax bills for Wiltshire, more anti-social behaviour complaints through people having garden bonfires and uncessesary increased hardship for people across the county.

I would like to assure you that I will not be supporting the introduction of the Garden Waste Tax on Tuesday 24th February when the matter comes before Council.

It is true that local government has faced increased financial pressures due to the continuous cuts in funding that have been imposed by central government in London. It is also true that there were considerable savings that could be found in local government and here in Wiltshire these have been found.

However, we are now at the point where it is no longer possible to continue to provide some of the vital services that we offer, such as the Garden Waste collections, the Wiltshire Hopper bus service taking Wiltshire residents to the RUH and Great Western Hospitals, the Wiltshire Music Service which facilitate such amazing music teaching in our schools and many other other important services such as Arts, Museums and concessionary fares.

As an opposition councillor it is very easy to simply criticise and attack those in power, without offering any viable alternatives, and this is often something we see from other opposition councillors in Wiltshire.

I don't believe this is appropriate and therefore my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I will be proposing an amendment to the administration's budget on the 24th February that will reverse the introduction of the new Garden Waste Tax, will protect the Wiltshire Hopper and Wiltshire Music Service, and will reverse a range of other savage cuts being imposed on council run services in Wiltshire. Our proposals will also increase the ability of local Area Boards to support local groups and charities by re-introducing revenue funding for the local small grants scheme.

Of course this will come at a cost. We could either look at what other services the council delivers and decide to cut those, or we could face up to the unpleasant reality that the time has come to ask the people of Wiltshire to pay just a little but more for receiving these much valued services.

The Conservative's answer was to target this additional cost on those who have and use green bins with a significant new Tax and still cut services. We think that a fairer solution is to ask everyone to pay just a little extra, on average just 45p per week, to protect
these important services. Additional, by linking this additional cost to council tax bills we ensure that those with more pay more, and those who live in the smallest homes in Wiltshire will pay less. A household living in a Band A property would see an increase of just 15p per week.

By protecting these services, keeping investment in our communities and maximising the chances for everyone to be able to participate we are proposing an alternative that delivers a Stronger Economy, a Fairer Society, and Opportunity for All.

Cllr Jon Hubbard
Leader, Wiltshire Council Liberal Democrat Group

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