The shadow leader of Cornwall Council has said that following a cash injection by the Government of around £6.5m the local authority should now reduce its proposed 4.99 per cent council tax increase to just 2.99 per cent.

However, the council’s current deputy leader has labelled the suggestion as “crass” and “blatantly political”.

Like many councils throughout the land, Cornwall Council is on a financial cliff edge and has to make savings of £29m in 2024/25 and as a result is proposing a maximum 4.99 per cent council tax rise for the second year running.

It has persistently pushed the Government for more financial help to support expensive services such as adult social care and school transport. Last week Westminster announced more financial aid for cash-strapped local councils, which should equate to around an extra £6.5m for Cornwall.

Cllr Julian German (Independent, St Goran, Tregony & the Roseland), shadow leader and former leader of Cornwall Council, called on Conservative councillors to use this money to lower the proposed council tax burden. He said: “Cornwall Council has received an additional £6.5m of Government funding, not taken into account in its 4.99 per cent proposed council tax rising budget.

“Like residents, the council needs to live within its means, so this additional funding should be used to lower the council tax rise. Cornwall Council’s own budget survey showed that 63 per cent of respondents disagree that the proposed rise to council tax is acceptable. We need to listen to this and help struggling council tax payers.”

He was backed by Cllr Andrew Mitchell (Independent, St Ives West & Towednack) who added: “Cornwall Council really must stop seeing the public as an easy cash cow. We are all suffering from Tory mismanagement. At Cornwall Council they are asking tax payers for more whilst spend on consultants goes up by millions. That is why I will be supporting Cllr German in his call to ease this burden on local tax payers by having this £6 million put in to the general pot and limit next year’s rise to 2.99 per cent.”


The suggestion came from Julian German, former leader of Cornwall Council (Image: Cornwall Council)

The suggestion came from Julian German, former leader of Cornwall Council (Image: Cornwall Council)


However, Cllr German’s suggestion was pooh-poohed by deputy leader Cllr David Harris (Conservative, Gloweth, Malabar & Shortlanesend), who responded to an email his political opponent had sent to all councillors.

He said: “Words almost fail me at this crass, blatantly political email. You have been both leader and deputy leader of this council and you, of all people, understand how things work and yet you still come out with this nonsense.”

He said he was delighted that the Government “have found some more money for us” but it was a one-off which could not be factored into the council’s medium term financial plan (MTFP).

“Just using simple figures from what is today in the public domain,” added Cllr Harris, “these additional receipts mean that our call on reserves to balance next year’s budget is still in excess of £10 million and if we were to proceed as you suggest our call on reserves would be around £20 million.

“Reserves are finite, once spent they are gone. You have seen the forecast deficit for later years in the MTFP and yet you suggest that we do not do our utmost to keep our books in order. I do understand how council tax payers feel but my job, indeed our collective job, is to look beyond the short term political point scoring and seek to protect our finances as best we can.”

He told Cllr German: “I have previously respected your views but on this occasion I fear that your email is nothing more than opportunistic, short-sighted in the extreme and not worthy of further comment.”

The council has to make savings of around £75m by 2028 which will inevitably lead to the cutting or even stopping of some services.