Tax rise lower than 4.5 per cent

LABOUR councillors at County Hall are today confident they will vote for a tax rise of "signficantly" less than the 4.5 per cent they were discussing earlier this week.

LABOUR councillors at County Hall are today confident they will vote for a tax rise of "signficantly" less than the 4.5 per cent they were discussing earlier this week.

At their meeting on Tuesday a number of options were discussed to bring in an increase between 3.9 and 4.9pc.

A figure of 4.5pc was considered realistic by many – however after the Liberal Democrats met on Wednesday and there were further discussions and this figure has now been brought down.

"I cannot say what the final figure will be because that has yet to be agreed, but it will be considerably lower than the 4.5pc that has been quoted," said Labour group press spokesman Kevan Lim.

"Of course, actual council tax bills may be higher once the district and police authority elements are included – but they are small in comparison with the county council part of the bill," he added.

The administration at County Hall is today feeling pleased with itself after getting a letter from local government minister Nick Raynsford warning about the possibility of capping.

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He wrote:

I was concerned to read from press reports that your authority may be considering a rise of around 6-8% in its council tax next financial year.

I am sure that council tax payers in your area would find it hard to understand how such an increase could be justified.

After mentioning the grants given to the council at the end of last year, the letter concludes:

We will be looking very closely at final budgets and council tax rises for next year, and we will not hesitate to use our capping powers if that proves necessary.

Council leader Bryony Rudkin replied:

Can I assure you that we have no intention of raising tax by the levels quoted in your letter. We have been working hard for months now on a budget which balances the needs of taxpayers and services.

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