Council tax to rise

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 28 February 2014 Updated: 28/02 09:23

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HARD-PRESSED residents will see their council tax rise by nearly two per cent from April.

Borough councillors voted this week to raise their portion of the bill by 1.9 per cent, with the county council, police and fire authorities having all previously agreed rises for their share of between 1.93 and 1.99 per cent.

All four rises are below the two per cent mark set by the Government which would have triggered a referendum.

It means anyone living in a Band D property will now pay £1,529.72 a year from April - adding more than £29 to the average bill - while those living within Feckenham will pay £1,552.97 due to the extra charge from the parish council there.

The council tax was set as part of Redditch Borough Council’s budget for next year which includes using nearly £1.2million from its savings to balance the books and a total of £500,000 of savings still to find.

Council leader Bill Hartnett said there had been no rise in council tax for the last four years but they needed to ensure they covered the costs before them. He added they had raised the council tax by a lower level than the police, fire service and county council - although only by 0.03 per cent.

“I’d like to remind members we are not dramatically cutting frontline services at all. We are keeping the services we introduced when we took back the council a couple of years ago.”

Conservative group leader Juliet Brunner said it was clear prior to 2012 - when Labour took control of the council - funding had decreased far more significantly.

“We had to make some really difficult decisions and not once did you support us. Your strategy of raiding the reserves is not sustainable,” she said.

“The people of Redditch deserve better. You’re leaving us in a terrible position.”

But she was attacked by Coun Rebecca Blake for not putting forward any alternatives to the budget proposals and abstaining from voting.

“I am really disappointed the opposition haven’t provided any opposition this evening. On the doorstep I will be very sure to remind people while you have got lots of hot air you have actually proposed no alternative ideas.”

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