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Exchange of letters about rates increase with Harry Cohen


From HARRY COHEN M.P. for LEYTONand ERIC DEAKINS M.P. for WALTHAMSTOW.

House of Commons
Westminster

14 April 1987.

Councillor Evie Edworthy, Secretary,Labour Group,
London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Dear Evie,

The Labour Group has had to make a most difficult decision about therates. Ve understand that the Council's financial balances and reserveswere run-down by the previous administration.

We also appreciate that you are honouring your election commitmentto tackle such serious problems in the borough as housing disrepair andhomelessness, the crisis in our schools, the need to properly provideCommunity Care for our elderly and people with disabilities, and actionagainst child abuse and for better childcare.

Above all, we know that the Conservative government is mainlyresponsible for the rate rise. They have cut rate support grant (61% in1979 to only 43% now); imposed harsh penalties (^1-64 charged toratepayers for every ^1 the Council spends); and not providedsufficiently for inflation. (Their 3% figure is ridiculous as is clearlyseen when set against what they are allocating the teachers,)

It is a classic Conservative trick to shift the blame fromthemselves. Ve are also aware that the Conservatives promised to abolishthe present unfair rating system and have failed to do so┬╗

We can assure you that a Labour Government is committed to end thecurrent penalties on local authorities and increase rate support grantto more reasonable levels. Upon the election of a Labour Government wewould be happy to lead an immediate delegation to the new Minister todefflgind increased aid for Valtham Forest* It is obviously useless to seethe present Minister.

The current rise will hurt many of our constituents who have writtento us. This is especially true because the government's reorganisationof rate rebates means it is less comprehensive than it used to be,

It will be vitally important for you to carefully monitor theCouncil's finances throughout the year. If it becomes the case thatbudgets are likely to be underspent and balances and reserves becomelarger than is necessary for the prudent management of the Council'saffairs, it is hoped this will be swiftly ascertained.

We would hope that it may be possible in such circumstances for theCouncil to consider whether it can offer a refund to ratepayers* Ve knowthat you will carefully consider the points we have made.

In conclusion, we deplore the disgraceful personal abuse of localcouncillors that some irresposible people have promoted and perpetrated.Ve are particularly concerned about threats of violence and the arsonattack on Councillor Gerrard's house. Such conduct has no place inpublic life and we hope that all political parties,as well as the localpress, will condemn any incitement to violence and breaches of law andorder.

Yours sincerely HARRY COHEN & ERIC DEAKIINS