Political row looming over borough’s plan to raise council tax by 3%

Grafton House, the home of Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road

Grafton House, the home of Ipswich Borough Council in Russell Road - Credit: Archant

Opposition Conservative councillors in Ipswich are set to question the administrations council tax plans when they are debated later this month.

The Labour-led council is proposing to raise its element of council tax in the town by 2.98% and has outlined a number of investments in Ipswich services that it is planning to make over the next year.

However Conservative Group leader Ian Fisher said his group would have preferred to see a rise of 2% – which had been the government limit until this year.

He said: “It was probably to be expected but I think from a Conservative standpoint we would have tried to reduce it to the 2% we have had recently.

“I know the council has put their precept up but the county council has had seven years where it was frozen, whereas the borough council put up theirs year in year out.”

Mr Fisher also raised concerns over the subsidy being paid to Ipswich Buses, fearing that Ipswich taxpayers were “funding the routes that cannot pay for themselves”.

He said that the income Ipswich Buses generates would largely cover its costs, and would rather have seen a lesser council tax increase.

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Council leader David Ellesmere is to outline a number of investments aimed at tackling homelessness in Ipswich, investing in the Waterfront, supporting Ipswich’s Food Bank, improving the Ipswich Regent theatre, tackling drugs gangs, and drawing up a lottery bid to restore Chantry Park.

His group also aims to help the poorest families who struggle to pay their council tax bills.

He said: “We share the concerns about homelessness and what we are doing should create places for a further 40 groups in our homeless families units.”

The council was also increasing the support it gave to poorest families – meaning the amount they have to pay for a Band B home will fall from £112 a year to less than £70. It is a move that will cost other council tax payers £1 a year, but he felt few would grudge that support.

He said the council’s investment in commercial businesses was very important: “The money we are getting from our property investment is enabling us to make the town a better place to live – without it we would be looking at really serious service cuts that would hurt everyone.”