A budget is a statement of political policies and how they will be paid for. Liberal Democrat and Green councillors abstained in the vote on this year’s East Hampshire District Council budget.

Conservative councillors seemed shocked. For the Conservative leader of the council the vote was “petty politics”.

That they do not understand that Liberal Democrats and Greens do not share their views is astounding. Voters for Liberal Democrat and Green councillors would have felt, and rightly so, betrayed if their councillors had voted for Conservative policies that they disagree with.

The Conservatives also claimed that some Liberal Democrats and Greens had previously voted for the budget. They were referring to the overview and scrutiny committee.

This committee must scrutinise all council business to ensure that it is proper and legal. The budget is no exception. The Overview and Scrutiny committee agreed that the budget was proper and legal.

It would have deeply undemocratic for committee members to challenge the policies of the elected representatives that it contained. The Liberal Democrat and Green committee members followed the proper democratic process and challenged these policies at the full council meeting.

For many years the Conservatives had been unopposed and could do as they pleased. They seem to struggle with the fact that no longer can. They seem to struggle with the fact that they now have an active opposition. It is time that they started to engage with the real world.

Counting the cost of tax cuts

In 2018, a former East Hampshire council leader said that by 2022 East Hampshire residents would be paying the council no tax.

Had he found the mythic magic money tree? No, through commercial activity it would generate enough money to meet its tax bill.

There were two strands to this commercial venture. The first selling services, including dog foul patrols, to neighbouring authorities. The second commercial property speculation.

To date the first punt has raised very little return. The second has contributed around £3 million this year. This is about one quarter of the budget. A great success then? Sadly It’s an illusion.

The portfolio cost around £130m. It is now worth £115m. A drop of £15m. Spread over five years (since 2018), £3m per year. Do you remember the annual income? Around £3m per year.

The Conservatives have cut your taxes by £15m by saddling you with a £15m debt – more than one year’s council income.