A TEESSIDE MP is calling for a freeze on council tax.
James Wharton, MP for Stockton South, is asking the town’s council to accept a government grant that could freeze council tax for the coming year.
Although the government say that a third of all councils across the country have agreed to accept the grant –equivalent to a one per cent rise in council tax – authorities across Teesside look set to turn it down.
Mr Wharton has called for Bob Cook, leader of Stockton Council, to reconsider proposals to raise council tax instead of accepting the grant.
He said: “In 2011 Stockton froze its council tax under the leadership of Ken Lupton and local Conservative councillors. In 2012 Labour put it up by nearly 3.5 per cent and this year it looks like they are again going to go for the maximum rise possible without triggering a referendum.
“It is not fair on local people that when so many local authorities are freezing council tax ours are putting it up year on year; they are turning down government money worth millions of pounds which would have come into our local economy and instead increasing the bills for people across Stockton Borough. The money is on offer, just like it was last year, and yet Stockton Council prefers to pick the pockets of residents.”
Earlier this month, Middlesbrough’s mayor Ray Mallon called the grant “financially illogical”. He said: “On the face of it, the Government’s offer of a £518,000 grant to freeze our council tax for the coming year appears to be an attractive proposition. However, any short term gain would be obliterated by the significant medium to long term impact on our future finances.”
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