Cllr Lewis Barber, Conservative Spokesman on resources today accused Colchester Borough Council of pleading poverty and proposing cut to services & savings of £1.5m in the forthcoming financial year 2018-19 while hoarding nearly over £30m of taxpayers' cash. He revealed that, according to draft Annual Statement of Accounts currently out for public consultation, the Lib-Dem & Labour coalition have amassed a cash mountain of £34.6m. This is a sum far beyond the immediate needs of providing the Borough’s public services. The minimum level of balances agreed by the Council is £1.9m.

After the presentation of the Council’s Budget Strategy by the ruling LibDem/Labour coalition on Wednesday 12th July, Cllr Lewis Barber said ”we have the bizarre spectacle of the Labour Party protesting against austerity at the same time as their socialist colleagues on the Council are hanging on to millions of pounds of funds that could be ploughed back immediately into providing services for our communities. I'd challenge them to do just that.

The Council collects £11m per year from residents in Council Tax. So the reserves amount to almost 3 years worth of tax. In other words, Colchester could have a two-year holiday from Council tax with reserves at this level, and still have a prudent sum left in the reserves"

Cllr Dennis Willetts, Leader of the Conservative Group, explained “While the Senor Councillor for resources insulted us by likening this position to his domestic accounts and how much he spends on fish fingers, he could not deny that the Council’s usable reserves have risen from £26.8m on 31st March 2015, to £32.9m for 2016, and a staggering £34.6m on 31st March 2017. The Cabinet can blather all it likes that this is not so, but this is the figure published by the Chief Financial Officer and independently confirmed by the Council’s auditor.

I accuse the Council of being out of control of its cash. “The LibDem & Labour Coalition keep approving projects, taking the Council Tax from residents, then not spending the money. It is time for this financial madness to stop.  “We are a service-providing Council, not an international bank. We demand and immediate re-appraise all these projects, taking immediate action to expedite those approved projects which are essential for the Borough and are good value for money, or return the funds to the taxpayers.

Conservatives pledge to use all taxpayer funds to provide essential services, not to hoard a cash mountain in their piggy-bank.

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