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The Argus council tax debate: An opportunity to have your say
The potential for the country’s first ever council tax referendum in Brighton and Hove has sparked great debate in the corridors of power and the living rooms of residents alike.
Nowwe are giving you the chance to put your questions to those making key decisions for the city.
We are hosting The Argus Council Tax Debate at Hove Town Hall from 7pm next Thursday, February 6 to give you the reader the chance to ask the questions you want answered to the city’s political leaders.
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The decision earlier this month by the Green administration to propose a 4.75%council tax rise which automatically sparked the prospect of a referendum was immediately rejected by political opponents.
The local Labour group responded by calling for the Green administration to stand down and to be replaced by a caretaker council until fresh elections in May 2015.
The Argus’s own poll into residents’ referendum voting intentions has received more than 4,000 votes online with more than 70% saying they would vote against the rise.
We have also received almost 150 reader votes posted to The Argus newsroom with an overwhelming majority opposed to an increase.
But the Green call has received the backing of both major public sector worker unions,GMBand Unison, as well as a number of campaign groups and academics.
Argus editor Michael Beard, pictured left, who will chair the debate next week, said: “Ever since it was announced that a referendum might be held to determine whether council tax can be increased to 4.75% The Argus has been flooded with letters, emails and phone calls.
“Some described it as a clever move by Jason Kitcat – others as madness.
“What is certain is that it is an extremely controversial move that has sparked fierce debate.
“And that is why The Argus has decided to stage its debate so that the leaders of the three main parties in Brighton and Hove can explain where they stand on the budget, council tax and the proposed referendum, and why.
“We first began planning this debate on Monday last week.
“We were determined that our readers, both in paper and online, should have all the facts, figures and arguments in front of them.
“The debate will also give you the chance to ask your own questions.
“This is your opportunity to speak about not only a possible referendum, but also the scale of public spending cuts and the level of council tax increase.
“The Argus has been representing local views for more than 130 years which is why we felt it was so important to stage this debate and allow you to have your say on the issues that affect every single person in the city.”
Coun Kitcat said the crisis in social care is set to worsen as both Labour and Conservative parties nationally are committed to “more drastic cuts” but few were “willing to talk about it openly”.
He added: “So that is why we believe the other parties should join with us to give all residents an opportunity to express their view in the form of an official referendum.
“It’s only right that we have a proper public debate on the future of these essential social care services for our most vulnerable, because it is so fundamental to what we do as a council.
“Why not let the people decide?”
Coun Theobald said: “It is also important to debate important issues such as these and I am quite happy to debate and give our views.
“Our position is that it’s not necessary to increase the level of council tax residents have to pay and the Government has offered a substantial sum to help and enable the freeze to take place.”
Coun Morgan added: “I am looking forward to hearing the views of residents on the Greens’ proposed £5 a month tax rise and to expose some of the tactics behind it.”
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