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Stoke to debate calling in the Taxpayers Alliance

Cllr Gavin Webb of Stoke-on-Trent Council, who appears to have left the Lib Dem Group and now sits as a Liberal Democrat (Libertarian) has tabled the following motion to Stoke-on-Trent's Council meeting this Thursday (seconded by Cllr Joynson who sits as "Non Aligned.")

"This Council agrees to invite and cooperate with the low tax, better government pressure group the Taxpayers Alliance to scrutinise the whole of the City Council's finances in preparation for the Budget Council to be held on 26 February 2008, with a view to identifying waste and needless spending, in order to reduce the overall tax burden to the City taxpayer and help make City operations more effective and efficient."

I am baffled by all the different political groups on Stoke Council and have no idea what prospect the motion has of being passed. It also seems odd that Cllr Webb, as a councillor calling for less government and lower tax and who commends the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute on his website, apparently retains some residual allegiance to the Lib Dems rather than joining the Conservatives.

Anyway, I think the idea of challenging the Taxpayers Alliance to go through the books is a good one. They would see that cutting Council Tax is not easy. For instance huge areas where wasteful spending could be identified do not come under the General Fund and so would not enable Council Tax reductions. There are all sorts of costly statutory requirement from central Government which have to be followed. Some of the spending cuts the Taxpayers Alliance often highlight in the media are small beer in a local council typically with a budget of hundreds of millions of pound. But I still suspect their team would succeed in coming in with some impressive and entirely practical savings.

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