Did Ipswich councillors vote for a 1% or 2% council tax rise?
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich taxpayers will pay 2% more for the borough council element of their council tax bill from April, after final approval for the authority's 2021-22 budget was given.
Ipswich Borough Council's full council meeting on Wednesday night gave the green light for the 2% rise, which equates to around 11p per week extra for a Band B property.
The authority's opposition Conservative group tabled proposals for just 1% rise, but did not secure enough votes from councillors.
Labour leader of the borough council, David Ellesmere, said that council tax rises were never easy, but action on two emergency budgets last year in July and November as a result of the Covid-19 fallout, meant draconian cuts were not needed.
"I am proud of the way Ipswich Borough Council has responded to Covid," he said.
"We have continued delivering vital services throughout lockdown; we have delivered huge amounts of support and help to Ipswich businesses and residents; we have taken the tough but necessary decisions to enable us to maintain services; we have continued to invest to boost the local economy; provide affordable homes and reduce the carbon footprint on the council; and we are doing this without imposing large council tax increases of the county council and police and crime commissioner."
The administration confirmed that free garden waste bin collection services and free iCards for youngsters in the summer holidays would also remain, Covid-19 restrictions permitting.
Conservative group leader Ian Fisher proposed a council tax rise of just 1%, and called for £380,000 to convert Ancient House - the former Lakeland store in the town centre - to several smaller units for independents, national brands and concessions, as well as the return of a Tourist Information Centre space in there.
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Mr Fisher said: "The amendments are cost neutral to this council - no extra cuts are being proposed to fund either of the amendments, both are being funded by extra money being given to us by central government.
"Let's be a forward thinking council, one that looks after those hardest hit by the pandemic, and the council that has a solid vision for the town we all love."
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Mr Ellesmere said the Conservative proposals for 1% "takes huge risks for very little gain", while Mr Fisher said the Labour budget "contains no real plan for the recovery of Ipswich after the pandemic."
Proposals were agreed by 31 votes to eight, with three abstentions.
The emergency budgets last year saw a number of cuts made, which included closing the Profiles gym on the Waterfront, shutting the Tourist Information Centre and Town Hall helpdesk, and closing the Regent box office for an online and phone service only.
According to the authority, those cuts were made because the government financial packages only covered £10million of the additional £16m accrued in extra costs and lost income.