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Brighton and Hove council tax rise could still go ahead with Labour support say Greens
Green councillors have said that a 4.75% council tax rise could still go ahead if they were supported by Labour.
The Green Party’s appeal for its political opponents to support the rise came as Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy and resources committee rejected the proposed rise yesterday.
Conservative amendments for a council tax freeze and Labour amendments for a council tax rise of 2% were also both voted down.
In another heated budget discussion, Conservative and Labour councillors both pointed to The Argus poll in which more than four out of five voters said theywould vote against the tax rise, saying it was a clear indicator that it was a referendum the Greens could not win.
But council leader Jason Kitcat said it was absurd to be quoting the response of The Argus poll when it only covered a small percentage of the city’s population and said it was the “height of arrogance” to presume to know what would happen in a referendum in two months’ time.
He and finance member Leo Littman both warned of the “financial cliff” the council faced in the upcoming years with a projected budget gap of £90 million over the next five years.
‘Savage’ Coun Littman said: “We have considered next year and into the future when the cuts are scheduled to be especially savage and a small increase now will help next year and into the future.”
Green councillor Sue Shanks said she was shocked and surprised that Labour had not decided to support her party’s council tax rise.
She said: “With the Government’s austerity measures, there is no other way.
“With Labour’s support with us for a 4.75% rise we could win the popular vote.”
The much-predicted stalemate means the discussion will nowmove on to the full council budget debate on February 27.
At that meeting the Green administration will call on councillors to vote on their 4.75% council tax rise as an amendment.
Conservative leader Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said he repeated what he had said “week after week and meeting after meeting” that he could not see “any need” for a council tax increase.
His Labour counterpart, Coun Warren Morgan, said that residents in the city “could not afford this rise at this time”.
Following the meeting he said he was “delighted that the budget will now go to council based on the Labour position of a sensible, 2% inflation-level increase, and not the unaffordable Green £5 a month rise that would have triggered a referendum”.