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Labour's rejection of council tax hike "deeply disappointing"
The rejection of plans to hold a city-wide referendum on a council tax hike of 4.75% was described as “deeply disappointing” by council chiefs last night.
Brighton and Hove City Council's minority Green administration unveiled the proposals on Thursday claiming it was the only way it could protect the vulnerable in the face of the government's spending squeeze.
Yesterday, council leader Jason Kitcat said Labour members had given “little consideration” to the proposal after opposing them within 15 minutes of the announcement.
The Green politician also dismissed rumours he was forced into calling the referendum by party rebels, saying the proposals were “carefully considered”.
Due to a 2% cap on council tax increases, the local authority must hold a referendum to get the rise approved.
It would mean an average Band D property would increase by £71.64 a year to £1,578.92.
The minority Green administration said it had been forced to make the decision to protect public services.
But the main two opposition political parties said the Greens were “grandstanding” and were “irresponsible”.
Coun Kitcat said: “It's deeply disappointing to see the Labour Party locally reject our proposals out of hand so quickly.
“These are responsible, carefully costed budget proposals which we have legitimately proposed as the largest party and the council administration.
“They deserve thoughtful consideration by opposition councillors.”
Labour group leader Coun Morgan said his party would be calling on the Green leaders to stand down and replaced with a caretaker council.
Coun Kitcat accepted Labour could form a new administration with the Conservatives.
But while the two opposition parties are united in opposition to the 4.75% they are divided over specifics, with Labour favouring a modest rise and the Tories demanding a freeze.
The Conservative group will discuss its position at a meeting on Monday.
Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said: “The Greens are claiming that they don't have enough money to deliver services for the vulnerable yet they are prepared to blow a six-figure sum on holding a referendum which in all probability they will lose.”
Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said: “Because of the damaging split in his Green group Jason Kitcat knows he cannot get his own side to support his budget.
“But instead of adopting a responsible position and negotiating with the other parties to make the changes and council efficiencies required, Jason Kitcat has simply absolved himself of any proper credibility and is being pushed around by the rebels in his group.
“We deserve better than this. The Greens must go and go now.”
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