Dear Sir,

We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent people.

Durham County Council (DCC) is the 48th most deprived council in the country, and has greater-than-average deprivation needs to address. This used to be covered, yes, even by Margaret Thatcher’s government, by a grant settlement which took account of need, and gave larger grants to deprived councils like Durham. It was the Lib Dems in Tory Coalition government which said that this was not fair, and that the government should move towards distributing grants strictly on a per head of population basis, not needs.

The consequent reduction of grants has meant that DCC’s funding of statutory services has shifted from 40% council-tax-funded in 2010 to 60% council-tax-funded today.

The cost of those services rises every year, but over the past decade the government has cut grant-funding by £250 million per year. The money has to come from somewhere.

The rise in Council Tax is part of a government strategy to move the cost of local services from central government grant-funding to people’s Council Tax.

This was started by the Lib Dems and Tory coalition in 2010. It was the Lib Dems in government who forced your Council Taxes to have to rise year after year, after year. The Lib Dems changed the way Councils are funded. They deliberately brought this about, by choice.

This year, to “help” Councils make up the shortfall of government funding, the government ‘allowed’ Councils to raise Council Tax, ‘if they wished’, by 5%. But that 5% increase was built into the government’s settlement figures – in effect, the government expected that 5% increase to be part of Councils’ balancing their budgets.

Conservative-controlled Darlington Borough Council have raised their Council Tax by 4.99%.

The Lib Dems deliberately facilitated this. The Tories could not have done it without their support. They cut the Police by 21,000, closed Police Stations and trebled student tuition fees.

No ifs, no buts, the Lib Dems say one thing before an election, then do differently once they have power. With the government cutting funding every year, Councils having to increase Council Tax every year just to try and maintain facilities and services; DCC will loose £250 million each year, but the Lib Dems say they will cut your Council Tax, how? Their sums don’t add up. Just ask the Lib Dems this simple question: … What will you cut …?

If you are a student you know who to thank, re: tuition fees; if you are a resident suffering anti-social behaviour, you know who to thank for cutting the police and police stations.

At this local election you will have from 2 to 6 votes on the ballot paper for Town Council and 2 to 3 votes for County, depending on which Ward you live in. It’s not a lottery ticket, you do not have to use all your votes. Vote only for Independents, vote selectively and wisely, you’ve proved you can twice already.

The Lib Dems think people have forgotten their record in office, they haven’t. The Independents provide a balanced and experienced team who will confidently and calmly lead, free and open minded, we aim to preserve and protect and improve your services and facilities sustainably, whilst always looking to be cost effective and provide value for money. Putting you, the local community, first.

Being fooled once is a mistake, being fooled twice is a choice.

Councillor Arun M Chandran and Councillor Ken Robson