War of words between Labour MP Mike Hill and Brexit Party council leader Shane Moore over proposed 3.9% council tax hike

Hartlepool’s MP has accused the leader of the council of hypocrisy over a planned 3.9% council tax rise.

Friday, 4th October 2019, 12:45 pm

Mike Hill attacked Councillor Shane Moore, leader of the ruling Brexit Party coalition on the council, for urging colleagues to put politics aside on the issue after previously opposing tax hikes while in opposition.

Mr Hill said: “There is no doubt that because of underfunding from Central Government the council is getting squeezed, particularly as 58% of the budget has to be spent on Children’s and Adult Social Care (which is increasing).

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Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

“But this is not a new problem and it really is hypocritical of the new Brexit Party leadership, who nobody voted for in the first place, to call for cross party support for an increase in council tax when as Independent councillors in opposition to Labour their mantra has always been to argue against such hikes.

“The truth of the matter is that whoever runs the council they are restricted by the same Government rules on grant funding and expenditure and so the new Brexit leadership cannot duck responsibility and simply do what they used to do; shrug their shoulders and blame Labour for all the ills in the town.”

Mr Hill called on them to explain to people what their alternatives to tax increases were when they were in opposition.

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Shane Moore

He added: “If the people of the Fens, De Bruce, Manor, Foggy Furze, Hart Village and all the other villages and communities in the town felt that by electing a new anti Labour Council they would see a breath of fresh air then they need to think again.

“They have a council run by a Brexit Party unelected by the people and one which is about to fleece them for a shed load of cash month in month out.”

Mr Hill welcomed housing growth seen in areas like Wynyard where new executive homes will bring in more council tax, but warned ordinary and struggling taxpayers will feel the effect of any increase.

Councillor Moore responded by saying: “We are happy to see that the MP is taking local matters seriously and as he understands the very real financial problem left to us by Labour it would have been easy to 'kick the can down the road', however we have taken the very real and difficult decision to bring a robust plan to finance and policy, which all councillors - including Labour - agreed that our plan was the best way forward; protecting statutory services whilst keeping any council tax increase to an absolute minimum.

Hartlepool civic centre.

“This sets a key precedent for the basis of the budget for the coming years and one that we hope to continue to deliver against past May 2020, thus allowing consistency and continuity in overall council service delivery.”