LIB-DEM councillors have slammed a proposed 3% budget increase by Meltham Town Council.

Claiming sufficient funds already exist, Lib-Dem councillors Judith Powell and David Woodhead attacked the decision by the controlling Independent group to charge people for the cost of a recent by-election and attacked plans not to put more money into grants and partnerships.

Clr Powell said: “We think there is a growing demand for funding for small local projects and the Town Council is ideally placed to help. With the running down of the Meltham Hall Fund and the decision to advertise the fact that grants are available, there will be more pressure on the budget.”

Clr Woodhead, also a member of Kirklees Council, said: “I am very aware of the growing need for partnership funding – whether for environmental improvements or for support for the needy and vulnerable in our community.”

Chairman Duncan Crawshaw, said: “The precept was increased by 3%, in line with the previously announced council tax rate set by Kirklees Council.

“The budget proposed by the finance chairman was adopted while that of the Lib-dems was rejected, hence their bleating.

“The cost of the recent by-election, already paid for, was included in the budget and will be spread out over four years.

“The cost of the normal four yearly elections is budgeted for in advance over the four years between elections. The group of 10 who petitioned for the by-election did not have to consider the cost or its recovery.

“The grant fund has been increased but not by the amount that the Liberal Democrats wanted. The only partnership item, the village bus, has been budgeted for as usual.

“The further schemes put forward by the Liberal Democrats would suggest that Meltham money is used to pay part of the project costs – in other words paying twice.

“The town council has to make the best use of Meltham’s assets for Meltham’s people. At the present, the interest earned helps to maintain the precept at around half of what it might otherwise be,” Clr Crawshaw added.