Green councillors want to lead a nationwide ‘rebellion’ against the Government’s planned council tax freeze.

Brighton and Hove City Council is pledging to raise council tax by 3.5% instead of accepting a £3 million central subsidy to allow it to freeze the tax at current levels.

The controlling group of Green councillors maintain the grant would mean less money for services in future years and yesterday called on other councils to reject the ‘bribe’. Conservative-controlled East and West Sussex county councils have both accepted the money and frozen council tax.

The Conservative and Labour groups on Brighton and Hove City Council have also backed a freeze. But yesterday the Greens went on the offensive, saying one in ten councils around the country that had declared their position had rejected the policy and others would follow suit. The party said the money funding the freeze would not be made available in future, meaning that the following year the council would have to raise taxes to fund that gap as well as whatever extra money was needed.

A 3.5% rise would mean an extra 57p a week more, or nearly £30 a year, on the average household annual council tax bill. Of 7,000 people who took part in an Argus poll on the issue, 68% backed the tax freeze.

The Labour and Conservative groups could combine to block the minority Green administration’s plans if it tries to introduce the tax rise in its budget on February 23.

Jason Kitcat, the council’s cabinet member for finance and central services, issued a statement rallying other local authorities to ‘the rebel cause’.

He said: “When the Greens in Brighton and Hove announced the UK’s first council tax increase for the year, we did so because we’d read the small print.

“The Government freeze and its associated one-off ‘bribe’ look good up front but make no long-term financial sense unless you want permanently smaller local government and greatly reduced frontline services.”

He said Labour and Conservative councils elsewhere had done the same as the Greens and predicted more councils would follow.

Geoffrey Theobald, the leader of the Conservative group on the council, said the Greens should concentrate on winning the argument within the city. The Greens this week announced plans for £17 million of savings, including the closure of some public toilets and possible cuts to children’s centres and bus routes.

No one from the Department for Com-munities and Local Government was available to comment.