Councillor calls for council tax freeze to help struggling residents (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Councillor calls for council tax freeze to help struggling residents in Redcar and Cleveland
6:35pm Thursday 24th October 2013 in News
A COUNCILLOR is calling his local authority to freeze council tax rises for the next two years as many residents are struggling to pay their bills.
East Cleveland councillor Steve Kay submitted a lengthy question at the full meeting of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council claiming for many people it’s no longer ‘Won’t Pay’ it’s ‘Can’t Pay’.
The independent councillor called on the Labour-led authority to follow the example of neighbouring Hartlepool Borough Council and accept a Government grant to ease the burden on council tax payers.
The was rejected out of hand by Councillor Norman Pickthall, the cabinet member for corporate resources, this afternoon (Thursday 24).
Coun Kay said: “This year, in Redcar and Cleveland, more people than ever are having difficulty paying their council tax. It is hardly surprising, as the Labour Party, in defiance of the Government and local opinion, has pumped up the council tax to bursting point.
“The sad thing is that, even when the ruling Labour group is offered successive life-lines by the Government, they refuse to grab hold.
“In 2012, the Government offered Redcar and Cleveland a grant of £1.4m in return for a nil council tax rise, but instead Labour slapped on a 3.5 per cent increase.
“This year, when presented with an even better offer - a freeze deal, guaranteed for two years in return for a zero increase – Labour irrationally went for the maximum allowable two per cent hike.”
He added: “For many people it’s no longer ‘won’t pay’ it’s ‘can’t pay’.”
But Coun Pickthall dismissed the chance of a two year council tax freeze and accused the independent councillor of talking "drivel".
He said: “The whole question is nothing but drivel and has no substance. If we accepted this year’s offer we would have to find a further £700,000 next year, a further £700,000 the following year and £1.4m the year after that.”
Earlier this week it was reported that the council was facing a budget deficit of £10.1m in next year's financial settlement and consultation with staff has just started in relation to the possibility of redundancy.
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