Introduce a Local Levy on large superstores trading outside Gloucester’s city centre – say Lib Dems

Gloucester city councillors are due to debate a Liberal Democrat motion to give the council powers to introduce a local levy on large superstores outside the city centre.

The local levy would be rated at 8.5% on all large retail units trading outside Gloucester’s historic city centre, with rateable value of £500,000 or more.

The Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton who will propose the motion said: “Our aim is to help Gloucester city centre traders recover from damage done to it by large superstores trading outside the city centre. The large out of centre stores already benefit from free customer parking, whilst customers visiting city centre stores have to pay to park in city centre car parks. If approved we will use the extra £1.260 million income to improve the city centre, reduce vacant retail units and encouraging small independent traders.”

Cllr. Declan Wilson who will second the motion said: “The local levy would only be charged on superstores that are trading outside the city centre, so Debenhams would not be subject to this levy. A levy of 8.5% on all large out of city centre stores in Gloucester should raise an additional £1.260 million per annum for the council. We would want to invest this sum of money in the economic and environmental wellbeing of the city centre.”

The Liberal Democrat proposal to introduce this local levy will need to be approved by the Secretary of State under the Sustainable Communities Act 2007. The council would work closely with Local Works and other councils to get the Secretary of State’s approval.


Motion – Gloucester City Council 12th September

This Council notes the request from ‘Local Works’ to consider submitting the following proposal to the government under the Sustainable Communities Act:

‘That the Secretary of State gives Local Authorities the power to introduce a local levy of 8.5% of the rate on large retail outlets in their area with a rateable annual value not less that £500,000 and requires that the revenue from this levy be retained by the Local Authority in order to be used to improve local communities in their areas by promoting local economic activity, local services and facilities, social and community wellbeing and environmental protection.’

This Council notes that if this power was acquired it would present the opportunity to raise further revenue for the benefit of local communities, should the Council wish to use it and that this Council would only levy an 8.5% charge on large retail units based outside the city centre

This Council resolves to prepare a proposal to submit to the government under the Sustainable Communities Act and to work together with Local Works to gain support for the proposal from other councils in the region and across the country.

Proposed Jeremy Hilton

Seconded Declan Wilson

Labour keep Tories in Office

Jeremy Hilton repports

“Last night’s meeting at Gloucester City Council was interesting. Our no confidence motion in the Tory administration was defeated by a combined vote of Tory and Labour councillors.

Gloucester is one of two councils that haven’t filed audited accounts for 2011/12. The detail presented in the Tory draft budget for next year is also palpable. The council is facing a financial tsunami.

When it came to it, Labour bottled it, and saved the Tory leader’s neck.

Later the Tories voted against a Lib Dem amendment praising the coalition government for raising the income tax threshold to £9,440 from April this year, saving the average earner £600 per year, compared to income tax bills under Labour.

Looks like Labour and the Tories have a grubby deal on the city council to keep the Tory leader in office and principles can go out of the window.”

Halting the financial tsunami – Liberal Democrats demand answers!

A high level meeting has been held between the leadership of the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives on Gloucester City Council, to try and resolve the financial crisis engulfing the council.

 Currently, the Tories are in charge of the council, but are facing a vote of no confidence on the 24th January because of the council’s failure to complete audited accounts for 2011/12. The no confidence voted is being proposed by the Liberal Democrats.

 Liberal Democrat group leader, Jeremy Hilton has described the council as facing a financial tsunami because of its failure to complete audited accounts for 2011/12.  The accounts should be used as a base to predict income and spending for the forthcoming financial year and in helping to set the council tax.

 The Liberal Democrats have issued the leader of the council Paul James with a ten-point demand (see below) for information covering every aspect of the council’s finances in order that a sound budget can be set for 2013/14.

 Jeremy Hilton said: “I am demanding that Tories complete the accounts for 2011/12, provide full disclosure of the additional auditor’s costs, provide an estimated outturn for this year and supply a detailed explanation on how they plan to make £2.4m cuts. Financial control under the Tories is a disaster; we must sort out the finances of the city council for the sake of the council’s reputation.”

 “The Tories are proposing £2.4 million worth of cuts with just 75 words of explanation across sixteen budget headings. Information on the proposed budget is palpable. The announcement of the capital programme for next year is delayed and money in reserves is not being made public.”

 Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Sebastian Field confirmed that his party would work with other councillors to sort out the council’s financial affairs, he said: “The financial situation on Gloucester City Council is dire. We must do what is best for Gloucester, we must stabilise the council’s finances.”



 Liberal Democrat information requirements – City Council budget 2013/14 – handed to Paul James 17/01/2013

 1.    The projected outturn against the 2012/13 budget against all budget headings

2.    Full details of the reserves as they stood at 31st March 2012 and the projected reserves at 31st March 2013, including full explanation of each reserve

3.    Completed audited accounts for the 2011/12 financial year

4.    The extra cost of the late completion of the audited accounts for 2011/12 in both staff time and fees to be paid to external auditors

5.    Full list of virements between budget heads made in the current financial year over £5,000.

6.    Full list of each council direct services charge (inc fee value) and the income per charge in financial years 2011/12 and 201213 (estimate)

7.    The capital programme for 2013/14

8.    Full analysis of the £2.435 million worth of savings proposed, giving clear details of how the savings are going to be achieved and how the service spending compares to the financial years 2011/12 and 2012/13

9.    High Level report into the current contract with Enterprise including the expected outcomes for each service within the contract; include staff profile

10.  Copy of all documentation presented to the cabinet briefing held on the 16th January related to the 2013/14 budget proposals

Financial Tsunami at Gloucester City Council The Tories should go!

The Conservatives who run a minority administration on Gloucester City Council face a vote of no confidence on the 24th January, which if passed, would see the sacking of Paul James as leader of the council and his cabinet.

The no confidence motion will be moved by the Liberal Democrat group. Gloucester City Council is only one of two councils in the country that has failed to sign off its 2011/12 accounts, the other is Birmingham. Both councils have been named and shamed by the Audit Commission. Audited accounts should have been completed by the 30th September 2012. They are used as a base to predict income and spending for 2013/14.

Liberal Democrat leader, Jeremy Hilton who will propose the vote of no-confidence said: “The city council is facing a financial tsunami that is all of the making of Paul James and his Tory cabinet. Last year’s accounts haven’t been completed and now the council has to set the council tax for the coming year. We cannot rely on the accuracy of the council’s financial accounts. The complacency of the Tory administration is unbelievable.”

Deputy Leader Sebastian Field said: “The financial situation on Gloucester City Council is dire. The Tories are proposing £2.4 million worth of cuts and we still don’t have an accurate base to predict spending in the future. The Tories cannot cope and they should go. We can win the vote of no confidence if Labour councillors vote with us.”

It is understood that independent auditors KPMG are investigating the council’s books but still cannot get the figures to add up.

Liberal Democrat leader, Jeremy Hilton confirmed that his party would work with other councillors in a new administration to sort out the council’s financial affairs, he said: “We must do what is best for Gloucester and working with councillors from other parties to stabilise the council’s finances is on our agenda.”

Ends… Notes

1. No Confidence Motion

“That this council notes that the Conservative administration has failed to present, on time, audited accounts for the financial year 2011/12. This should have been done by the 30th September 2012 deadline.

This council notes it has been named and shamed by the Audit Commission (15th Dec 2012) as only one of two councils in the entire country to fail to complete its 2011/12 accounts.

This council agrees that it has no confidence in the leader of the council and his cabinet, and requests that they resign immediately, so that a new administration can be formed to sort out the financial mess that the council is now in.”

Proposed: Jeremy Hilton

Seconded: Sebastian Field

2. Audit Commission Report