Yorkshire Mayor suffers double vote blow

A CONTROVERSIAL Yorkshire Mayor suffered a double blow yesterday, when his proposals for a three per cent council tax cut were opposed and a vote of no confidence against him was carried.

Doncaster's elected Mayor Peter Davies and his Cabinet were severely criticised for lack of political leadership during a meeting of the full council in Doncaster, and his budget for 2010-11 was slammed as "irresponsible".

Inspectors from the Audit Commission moved into Doncaster Council's offices yesterday morning as part of a snap inspection into services.

This piled more pressure on the Mayor as he attempted to persuade councillors to support him in his bid to reduce council tax in what he called "difficult times" for the town's electorate.

Introducing the three per cent cut, Mr Davies said: "We will work smarter to deliver better services for less money. I feel we must help local people, many of whom are not receiving a three per cent pay increase this year, some who have no pay increase, and some who have even seen pay cut."

Councillors rounded on the plans, claiming they would leave public services in "jeopardy" and accusing the Mayor of a "populist" move.

Independent Coun David Hughes said: "The Mayor's budget is a recipe for disaster for the people of Doncaster. We have already been judged inadequate – the Mayor's response? Reduce services and increase fees and charges."

An alternative budget was presented by the chairman of the council's overview and scrutiny management committee, John Mounsey, which advocated a 2.95 per cent increase in council tax to support what he called "essential services".

The Mayor's budget was defeated by a margin of 41 votes to 11, and the budget suggested by Coun Mounsey was supported by 40 councillors, with 15 against.

The Mayor and his Cabinet now have five working days to examine the new budget.