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`Use pounds 9.6m to cut bills'.

Byline: By Andrew Baldwin

Unspent cash should be used to keep the council tax down, Tories said today.

Their call came after it was revealed that Kirklees Council underspent its budget by pounds 9.6m last year.

Tory group leader Clr Robert Light said: "It would be easy, as the Labour group have done, to criticise the Cabinet and brand them as incompetent.

"But it is more important to use the money wisely and ensure that accounting procedures are put in place so that such underspends do not happen again.

"It is my view that this money should be given back to the people.

"The way to do that is to put it in reserve and use it specifically to reduce future council tax increases."

He said he would be calling for a probe to find out why the underspend was not picked up earlier.

Clr Light said: "The huge underspend highlights what the Conservatives have said all along - that there are areas of council expenditure where savings can be made and that the Liberal Democrats charge residents too much council tax."

Lib-Dem council leaders were accused of incompetence last week after the massive underspend was revealed.

But council leader Clr Kath Pinnock said the surplus was good news and meant there would be cash reserves available for services.

Labour group leader Clr Mehboob Khan said people had already been taxed for the cash windfall and expected it to be used to improve key services.

"People want improvements in health, parks and play areas.

"They want the council to tackle the poor state of roads and pavements and improve the environment," he said.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jul 14, 2004
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