Inflation-busting council tax rise set

HOUSEHOLDERS in mid Suffolk are today facing an inflation-busting six per cent council tax hike, despite pledges to keep increases down.But, in an 11th hour climb-down, councillors decided to scale down proposals for massive hikes in Stowmarket's car parking charges.

HOUSEHOLDERS in mid Suffolk are today facing an inflation-busting six per cent council tax hike, despite pledges to keep increases down.

But, in an 11th hour climb-down, councillors decided to scale down proposals for massive hikes in Stowmarket's car parking charges.

The tax hike decision, voted through by 21 votes to seven at a heated meeting of Mid Suffolk District Council last night, is twice as high as the Conservative administration had hoped for.

Soon after taking over from the previous Liberal Democrat and Labour rulers, the party stated its hopes of keeping increases down to 3pc.


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Roger Saunders, council leader, apologised for having to take this measure, but said the council had been forced into the move to fill a £1.57million budget black hole.

He said: "This council has been living beyond its means for a number of years and we're dealing with the situation we've found ourselves in."

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The move signals a rise of £6.93 for a Band D home, pushing the annual bill to £122.40 for the 2004/5 district council element.

At the same meeting, councillors approved a scaled down rise in car parking charges with a vote of 22 to ten.

Proposed charges for car parks in Bury Street, Ipswich Street, Milton Road, Meadow Centre and Iliffe Way would have seen daily tickets of between 50p and £8, depending on the length of stay. Currently charges vary from 20p to £3.50.

Now the increased charges will be a maximum of £4 for Ipswich Street, Milton Road and Bury Street and £5 for Meadow Centre and Iliffe Way.

Season tickets were also set to leap to £343 a quarter and to £1,220 a year. But after massive opposition from the community, these rises were limited to £169 a quarter, up from £58.50, and to £600, up from £208.

The move came after the Conservatives revealed it had managed to find savings of about £30,000 after some budgeted costs had come in at less than anticipated.

The new charges will be introduced next month.

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