Freeze for Hambleton council tax

Darlington and Stockton Times: Council leader Mark Robson Council leader Mark Robson

A COUNCIL which came under fire for not passing on government payouts for parish and town councils is set to freeze its own council tax for the fourth year running.

Hambleton District Council leaders said more than £3m had been cut from its budgets in the past few years and it was not fair that parish and town councils were the only area of government that is not facing reductions.

The authority, which has nearly £22m in reserves, was criticised after it failed to pass on £92,000 included in its grant from the government which ministers had said was expected to be handed on to parish and town councils.

Coun Bryn Griffiths asked why the council had not handed on the money when it is clearly in a strong financial position with plenty of reserves.

Coun Peter Wilkinson told members of the cabinet committee: "We as a council have made cuts in our budget and made savings. I fail to see why parishes should be the only part of local government that isn’t facing cuts.”

Council leader Mark Robson added: "Our grant reduction for this year is £500,000 which includes the £92,000 which could be distributed throughout the parishes.

"At the end of the day we are in a strong financial position and it is good that we are, we are not increasing council taxes while not cutting services.

“Other authorities are not doing that, it is £100,000 that would have to come from somewhere.

"The sort of figure we are talking about is an average of 3.2 pence on a Band D property for a parish. The feedback I have had from the parishes is a positive one.”

Band D residents will be facing council tax of £89.48 a year for Hambleton. The total council tax including North Yorkshire County Council rates, fire and police and average parish costs will be about £1,449 if current estimates are all approved.

Hambleton say they are the third lowest charging authority in the country.

The budget for 2014/15 is £7.46m, a three per cent cut on last year. The full council is expected to agree the taxes next week.

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