Move to limit council tax increase rejected

The full meeting of North Yorkshire Council. Picture: LDRS.

Elected community representatives have rejected a move to avert average council tax bills across North Yorkshire rising by more than £100 for the coming year.

A majority of North Yorkshire councillors rejected a proposal by the Liberal Democrat group to limit the council tax increase from April to 3.99 per cent after hearing both the Conservative administration and opposition leaders state there was no alternative if key services were to be maintained.

The decision for a 4.99 per cent rise in the council’s precept, backed by 61 of 83 councillors attending the meeting, follows commissioner Zoe Metcalfe’s opting to charge band D taxpayers £11.77 extra for the police service and £2.41 more for the fire brigade.

Councillor Bryn Griffiths, the leader of North Yorkshire Council’s Liberal Democrat group, told the annual budget-setting meeting of the authority residents should be paying less following the Government announcing more than £6m funding for the council last month.

He said rather than using the extra Government funding to cut the amount of the council’s reserves being used to balance the books this year, with the funding the council had sufficient leeway to protect residents from “excessive” tax rises.

Fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Peter Lacey added: “We don’t need a bigger safety net, but rather fewer people falling into it.”

The meeting was told the Government funding announced by Levelling Up minister Michael Gove had been specifically to “place children’s social care services on a sustainable financial footing, while being mindful of the level of adult social care provision”, rather than to protect council coffers.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, told members the authority was in an “enviable position” compared to other councils, partly due to the savings that were generated from unitarisation.

He said the proposed 4.99 per cent rise recognised the dilemma of the ability of residents to pay to the council’s duty to support vulnerable people.

He added the proposed increase left the authority “better placed than any other council in the country to face” coming financial challenges.

The authority’s finance boss, Councillor Gareth Dadd said the Liberal Democrats had proposed a gamble based upon what would happen at the General Election and what action a future Government decided to take.

He said the £1.45 extra council tax a month on band D properties residents would pay under the proposed 4.99 per cent rise was “not worth the risk”.

The council’s Labour, Green and Independent group leaders said they could not support limiting the rise to a 3.99 per cent increase.

Green councillor Andy Brown said the extra Government money was “a pre-election bung”. Referring to the Liberal Democrat proposal, he added: “We cannot set a budget that is based on a temporary amount of money. I can’t vote for this as much as I would like to do so.”

Independent councillor Stuart Parsons said after spending significant time examining the proposals with the council’s chief financial officer he had concluded there was “very little room for manoeuvre”.

1 Comment

  1. Of course they want to increase council tax to the limit to pay the highly inflated salaries of our fat cat councillors .

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