Householders in East Sussex will face council tax rises more than twice the rate of inflation over the next year.

County councillors decided the standard Band D rate

will rise by 8.5 per cent, to £674.98, over the next year, at a full council meeting yesterday.

The Conservative opposition group on the council put forward a motion to keep the tax rise down to six per cent. It claimed this would have meant a saving of 30p a week for Band D payers.

But, at a stormy meeting in Lewes, members voted by 24 to 20 to pass the higher rate. Tory leader Peter Jones claimed the tax rise would take soup from the mouths of pensioners by charging up to £1 extra a week.

He said: "Councillors have no right to plunder pensioners' purses when they can't increase their incomes."

However, the Conservative amendment would have meant £2.6 million less to spend each year on education and social services, it was claimed.

Council leader David Rogers said: "The cuts in services that would bring would be irresponsible. Public services need to be paid for. The people of East Sussex would suffer."

The amount of council tax collected in 2000-1 will be £674.98 million.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.