Final decision made on Babergh council tax for 2021/22
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Final approval of a council tax rise just under 3% has been confirmed at a Suffolk authority for 2021.
Babergh District Council's full council meeting on Tuesday night agreed a council tax rise of 2.96% to its element of the council tax bill - around £5 extra for a Band D property.
Babergh's 2021 budget also includes a reduction in subsidised car parking from three hours free to one hour, suspension of free summer holiday swimming sessions for youngsters for one year, a £2.50 rise in garden waste collection fees and a switch to hydrotreated vegetable oil-powered vehicle fleet.
However, Conservative leader of the council's rainbow administration John Ward, said that the changes will enable the authority to continue delivering key services for the district.
"We have supported businesses and the most vulnerable in our communities throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so – supporting the local economy and helping our district through this crisis and beyond. However, this is not without cost," he said.
“We have also made climate change commitments that we must be able to afford to meet – not just for Babergh’s residents now, but for generations to come – and there are still ongoing challenges as all councils become independent of Government financial support."
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Mr Ward said the council tax rise was "the most difficult" addition to make given the financial pressures on homes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but added: "The cabinet believes this budget is a sound one - it keeps us on the right path so we can continue to deliver the services our residents need and want."
The budget was approved by 23 votes to eight, with one councillor abstaining.
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An amendment was tabled by the council's opposition Green group, which called for an additional £50,000 each for food banks and Citizens Advice provision, extra cash for enforcing planning conditions and an extra £30,000 for electric vehicle charging points among other things.
It said those proposals addressed issues important to residents - planning enforcement, biodiversity and the climate emergency.
Green group leader Robert Lindsay said: "What we are talking about is very modest sums, we are not going to bankrupt the council.
"It's what it says about our priorities of the council, and is those things aren't spelt out in the budget brought out then we have every right to push for them."
However, that motion was rejected by councillors.