A FIERY debate took place at the Borough’s full council meeting this week as the Tories stuck to their guns and pushed through a number of key issues.
Labour members were disappointed to see the town’s community lottery get rubber stamped, as well as the decision to award its members a pay rise.
Portfolio holders, those with special responsibilities, will get a 326 per cent increase.
Altogether the measure will put an extra £60,000 on the council’s budget.
Coun Yvonne Smith (Lab, Winyates) said: “Does anyone remember when this council used the phrase – ‘all in this together’ – during times of austerity?
“Well guess what, austerity is not over and now we have a bunch of Tories awarding themselves an obscene amount of cash when people are dying on the streets.
“Are they really ‘unlocking Redditch’, or have they just found a way to line their pockets?”
Those in power believe the increase is long over-due following Labour’s decision to freeze the pay for ten years.
In years gone by the council has voted against pay rises at every opportunity.
Conservatives say the move will encourage young people to take up a career in politics as the council is in need of ‘fresh blood’.
Coun Joe Baker (Lab, Greenlands) said: “I’m offended by this idea it will attract a ‘better calibre’ of councillor – I take that quite personally.
“Here in Redditch we have the highest claims of Universal Credit we’ve ever had.
“Are you not disgusted that you want to fill your pockets while this is happening?”
Coun Mike Rouse (Con, Church Hill) hit back saying: “The dinosaurs in this chamber are unwilling to evolve.
“We want to take Redditch forward and to do this we have to be willing to offer more.
“In response to Coun Smith, we are indeed – ‘all in this together’ – because we are all getting a pay rise.
“Are Labour members going to give their extra money to good causes? Well done if you do, but I highly doubt it.”
The confirmation of the Redditch lottery, with a top prize of £25,000, also caused the two parties to get heated.
Coun John Fisher (Lab, Matchborough) said: “I’m embarrassed we are getting into gambling. It’s damaging our reputation and we should be ashamed.”
Tory members pointed out there are many councils which run successful lottery schemes, some Labour-Led.
Despite early tensions both parties were in agreement over the regeneration the Arrow Valley Centre, which will see Rubicon Leisure take over the site in the near future.
As well as having more cash spent on improving Redditch’s waste services and the confirmation that care leavers aged under 21 will receive a 100 per cent Local Council Tax Reduction (LCT).
Those aged between 21 and 25-years-old are also being treated as a ‘protected group’ and wil be provided up to 100% LCT.