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LABOUR SAYS REFORM WILL HIT TORY VOTERS

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The Labour Party's Scottish front bench this week launched the first salvo in its anti-reorganisation campaign, war...
The Labour Party's Scottish front bench this week launched the first salvo in its anti-reorganisation campaign, warning that the £200 million costs of reform would fall heavily on taxpayers in Tory areas. Labour Scottish spokesman Henry McLeish said the first year cost of the creation of 28 unitary authorities would add £98 a year, or £2 a week, to the 10,400 highest banded properties in all council areas. Some taxpayers could face rises of £250 over the first five years. A further 236,000 band D properties would see bills increase by £49, just under £1 a week.

The figures, which Labour says are based on published government estimates and were compiled by the House of Commons Library Research Division, were immediately attacked by junior local government minister Allan Stewart as 'total nonsense.'

He claimed they completely ignored savings of up to £66m yielded by reorganisation. Mr McLeish said the Labour research paper Who Pays? was the first in a series targeted at Tory MPs and the backbench Treasury committee which would 'expose the pointless waste of scarce resources'.

The party would also seek meetings with the National Audit Office to put the case for a Public Accounts Committee enquiry, he said. The council tax figures are based on the assumption that neither the Treasury nor the Scottish Office would be able to absorb the costs of reorganisation.
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