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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 26 November 2009
Why are they making life more difficult for families?

• GIVEN their history in hiking charges for services like meals on wheels, nobody must be that surprised that the Liberal Democrats and Tories running Camden have found an excuse to hike up fees again (Tax frozen as fees arrive... has easyCouncil arrived? November 19).
The increases you reported on school meals and sports centres will hit families particularly hard, at a time when they need help the most.
Why is it that other boroughs are looking to help families through the recession, Camden is making life more difficult?
Next door in Islington, under pressure from the Labour councillors, the council introduced free school meals for all last year.
Here, ours will become less affordable for parents whose budgets are already stretched.
What is missing from the justification for these fee hikes is the fact that the council has been sitting on £80 million in reserves.
This is our money, which could be used to restore services cut by the Lib Dem/Tory executive and help subsidise some of the fees which they plan to ratchet up.
It really does look like the administration has looked on rather enviously at Barnet who got there first with the idea for ‘easyCouncil’.
At least the Tories there have had the chutzpah to be quite open about it. Unlike here, where the Lib Dems especially like to be all things to all people.
Mike Katz
Chair, Hampstead & Kilburn
Labour Party

We’re no easyJet

• WITH reference to your article (Tax frozen as fees rise… has easyCouncil arrived? November 19), I would like to make it clear that here in Camden we are not an ‘easyJet’ council.
Our focus has been on delivering excellent services and better value for Camden’s residents. Council tax has hardly gone up in four years. Front-line services have been protected and we are keeping our promises to Camden residents, for example, bringing council homes up to a decent standard, building a new secondary school, and refurbishing Kentish Town baths. 
And we’re making every pound pull its weight. For example, we’ve made over £8.1million in negotiating better prices with suppliers and £6.2million reducing the cost of bureaucracy in council offices over the last three years alone.
Camden’s residents will rightly be interested in both their council tax bills – covering essential services like waste collection and street cleaning – as well as charges for things like leisure centres or school meals.
Council tax often hits those hardest who can least afford to pay. That’s why we’re planning to freeze it for 2010. Since the last election the council has frozen council tax three years out of four. The total rise has been just under £25 for the average band D property (up just 2.5 per cent). Compare that to £164.52 (nearly 20 per cent more) over Labour’s last four years in power. They put up council tax year after year.
Yes, we’re putting up our charges by 2.5 pence in the pound on average, but that change won’t kick until 2010. By then the Bank of England predicts that inflation will have gone up – which will cancel out most of the real cost of the increase. Sensitive fees and charges have been frozen and there are often concessions available for people on low incomes, the young and the old.
The fact is that this council is continuing to deliver first class services through the worst recession in living memory while staying on track to freeze council tax helping those who need it most during testing times.
Cllr Ralph Scott
Executive Member for Resources

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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