Councillors in Wakefield back calls for West Yorkshire mayoral precept to be ruled out

Councillors in Wakefield have backed calls for taxpayers to be spared more bills by the new mayor of West Yorkshire.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 6:22 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 6:24 pm

Elected members on all sides said they did not want to impose extra financial hardship on residents post-pandemic.

Tracy Brabin who became the first ever metro mayor of the region last month, is legally entitled to impose a levy on council tax to help fund spending.

But at a full council meeting on Wednesday, Wakefield's Labour group successfully amended a motion by the Liberal Democrats, which called for the mayor to rule out a precept entirely.

Mayor Brabin is entitled to impose a levy on West Yorkshire residents under the terms of her role, despite the government giving the region £1.8billion over 30 years as part of the devolution deal.

Labour's amendment used almost exactly the same wording, except for specifying that it only be ruled out "at the present time".

Council leader Denise Jeffery told the meeting: "Tracy Brabin was elected on a manifesto of 10 pledges.

"At some point some of those pledges will have to be paid for.

"There's her pledge to bring the buses back into public ownership and that's very popular with the public.

Councillors said they did not want residents to have to pay more tax than they do already.

"I don't know where the money will come from, but I've made the point to Tracy Brabin that we don't feel there should be a precept at the moment.

"It's not the right thing to do at this time."

Coun Gordon said that a precept would disproportionately affect people living in West Yorkshire's towns and said that Labour's motion "added nothing" to his own.

"This just kicks the can down the road," he said.

"I think it's important we tell residents right now that we don't want a precept at all. We don't want to see it happen at any time."

Labour also exchanged blows and accusations of "hypocrisy" with the Conservative Opposition, who said that council tax had risen consistently under Labour.

Labour responded by insisting that they were reluctantly pushed into the mayoral deal by the Conservative government, who it was also suggested have shifted the tax burden onto local councils.

Local Democracy Reporting Service