Three out of four Teesside councils increase council tax rates against Government advice (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Redcar and Cleveland council increases its tax rate by 1.9 per cent
THREE out of four councils on Teesside have chosen not to take a Government cash offer to freeze council tax.
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council was the last of the authorities to set its council tax today (Thursday, March 7) and decided to increase it by 1.97 per cent.
That means the authority will not accept a Government grant of more than £500,000, offered as an incentive to impose a freeze.
Coun George Dunning, Labour leader of the authority, said the one-off grant was a “poisoned chalice” because it would lead to a shortfall in budgets for years to come.
The offer was an act of “smoke and mirrors”, he said, because the Government was actually cutting its grant to the council by an estimated 42 per cent in the years up to 2020.
Redcar and Cleveland Council has followed the lead of authorities in Middlesbrough and Stockton in rejecting the Government offer.
However, all three kept the percentage increase below two per cent in order to avoid having a compulsory referendum on the issue.
Hartlepool council has agreed to accept the grant.
At Redcar and Cleveland’s full council meeting in Eston Civic and Learning Centre, Coun Glyn Nightingale, leader of the Liberal Democrats, opposed the increase.
He said: “The 1.97 per cent rise will raise an extra £1.1m. By freezing Council Tax the Government will give the Council £585,000. The gap of £579,000 exactly matches all the wasteful schemes Labour didn’t need to pour money into plus the £200,000 unspent from this year.
"There is plenty of wasted money spent on things they can scrap if they have the will to do it. It’s not difficult."
Coun Tristran Learoyd, an Independent and former Labour councillor, said the increase would hit ordinary working people hard, the people the Labour party should be trying to protect.
However, Coun Sheelagh Clarke, Labour deputy leader of the council, said investments made by the council, including the Redcar Beacon, were creating jobs.
The council tax increase was approved by 26 votes to 18. The average Band A tax-payer will now pay £1,086 in the coming year up from £1,073.