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Brighton and Hove City Council urged to put a freeze on tax
Brighton and Hove’s Green leaders are being urged to take a leaf out of their neighbouring councils’ books and not ask their residents to pay more council tax.
The council is proposing a two per cent increase in council tax for the 2013/14 budget when councillors meet to decide it at the end of next month.
However, opposition councillors are calling on the ruling Green administration to follow the lead of neighbouring Conservative councils in East Sussex and West Sussex, which have announced freezes for the third year in a row.
Conservative councillors said it was senseless to turn down £1.2million offered by the Government for freezing council tax for the next financial year.
However council leader Jason Kitcat said the increase was justified because the local authority had to deal with an increasing demand on services while faced with “ever-decreasing funds”.
He also pointed out that other local authorities were proposing increases as well, including Chichester District Council and Surrey County Council which have announced their intention to increase council tax by four per cent and 1.99 per cent respectively.
Communities minister Eric Pickles accused councils proposing council tax increases of just below two per cent – the threshold he set requiring a referendum – as “democracy dodgers”.
West Sussex County Council’s cabinet has recommended that the council agrees to freeze council tax bills for the third year in a row.
Michael Brown, the council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “We are all feeling the pinch and as such, I am sure households will welcome our proposals to freeze council tax for the coming year.”
A freeze was also agreed by East Sussex County Council’s cabinet.
Deputy leader Keith Glazier said: “We know that times are hard for many people, and every pound counts in household budgets, so we need to do our bit to help.”
But Coun Kitcat said Brighton and Hove was the worst affected area in the region and was disproportionately targeted for government cuts in comparison to its near neighbours.
He added: “I hope that in these difficult times, people will understand that the modest two per cent council tax increase will help provide the services our city needs.
“It is less than inflation but without it, services across the board, from libraries and street sweeping to care for children and the elderly, face being ten per cent worse off.”
Conservative finance spokeswoman Ann Norman said: “I would recommend that the Green administration here takes a leaf out of the books of the Conservative administrations of East and West Sussex county councils.
“The city’s hard-pressed residents deserve a fair deal and we shall continue to push for that.”
Talking point: What are your concerns about council tax charges in Brighton and Hove? Are you worried about cuts more than increased bills? Share your views by commenting below or write in to The Argus letters pages by email email@example.com.
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