Taxpayers to give view on price hike

VOTERS can give their views on this year's council tax rises next time councils are up for re-election.That was the verdict of Labour Party Chairman Dr John Reid when he heard about the outrage prompted by Suffolk County Council's 18.

By Paul Geater

VOTERS can give their views on this year's council tax rises next time councils are up for re-election.

That was the verdict of Labour Party Chairman Dr John Reid when he heard about the outrage prompted by Suffolk County Council's 18.5 per cent rise.

"This is a matter for the local authorities. They have gone out to consultation with people in their area and that is what they have said they want.

"If people don't like this rise, they will be able to express their feelings next time there is an election," he said.

Dr Reid insisted that the government had been generous in its settlement with the county council.

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"We have given the council a grant increase which is well above the rate of inflation.

"If the council needs to spend well above that, it is a matter for the local area – there are elections for people to express their opinion on the rise," he added.

The Labour government believed it was right for councils to be able to charge what they felt was necessary and answer to the electors for those decisions.

Dr Reid was in Ipswich to meet local party members and members of the business community at a meeting at Felaw Maltings.

The meeting with local members was in private, and was expected to include a frank discussion of issues surrounding the possibility of attacking Iraq.

Dr Reid accepted that many people held strongly-held views that it was wrong to go to war – but hew also felt the mood may be changing.

"There was recently a poll which showed that 80 per cent of people felt the only way to stop Saddam may be by taking military action.

"There is a lot of concern about the Iraqi people. But don't forget he's already tortured or killed four million Iraqis," Dr Reid added.

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