DAVID Cameron has waded into the Dudley Council election debate by taking a swipe at the Labour-run authority.
The Conservative Prime Minister highlighted council tax rates in a message to Dudley’s voters ahead of local and European elections on Thursday May 22.
Mr Cameron’s Tory-led coalition pays councils a grant to subsidise a nil increase in council tax and has capped increases above two per cent without approval from borough residents.
He said: “Labour councils are still addicted to overspending and to gimmicks – like here in Dudley, where the council spent thousands of pounds on holding a referendum essentially asking whether there should be a referendum on increasing council tax.”
Mr Cameron’s comments refer to a survey by Dudley Council in late 2012 when people were asked whether they would support an increase above two per cent.
Unsurprisingly the people of Dudley rejected a large increase and Labour claimed the £6,000 consultation had saved £350,000 – because they now knew there would be no point holding a more expensive referendum.
Dudley’s Conservative Group, which currently holds 24 of the authority’s 72 seats, has already committed to a zero increase in council tax if they take control this year.
The group has also pledged to introduce a five year residency test for new applicants for council housing and scrap short term parking charges in town centres.
Among Conservative candidates doing battle on polling day will be Labour defector Kamran Razzaq, who will be standing for the Tories in the Netherton and Woodside ward.
The former Labour Party member is already being tipped for success by the leader of the Dudley Conservative group, Cllr Patrick Harley.
Cllr Harley said: “Kamran is a loss to the Labour Party and their loss is our gain. He has been working the Netherton Ward extremely hard over the last few weeks and I believe he has a bright future in local politics.”
Kamran Razzaq added: “The Conservative Party is the real party of aspiration for young professionals such as myself.”
Dudley’s Labour leaders blame Mr Cameron’s government for black holes in their budgets which mean cuts to services but have pledged not to “take any more money from the pockets of hard-working Dudley residents.”
Councillor Pete Lowe, Dudley deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “Due to the significant cuts in government funding that have been imposed on us we are having to make extremely difficult decisions in relation to making millions of pounds worth of savings.
“To put it into context, in 2010/11 we were receiving over £196 million in mainstream government grants and this will have been reduced to around £133 million by 2015/16, which represents a reduction of more than £60 million.”