CONSERVATIVES have called on Durham County Council to freeze council tax.

Yesterday (Wednesday, February 12), the authority’s Labour cabinet backed a 1.99 per cent rise, the biggest allowed without triggering a local referendum, which would raise around £3.29m.

Tories say the council should accept the Government’s offer of a grant of £2.04m for freezing council tax.

The group says it would make up the resulting £1.25m shortfall, and more, by axing the council magazine Durham County News (£150,000) and centralising back office functions (£1.35m).

Tory leader Richard Bell said: “They (Labour) plan to charge local tax payers £3.29m for a net benefit to the council of £1.25m. That’s crazy economics.

“We have shown, with figures approved by council officers, how we can save the money to freeze council tax by making further back office savings, with £250,000 left over.

“Surely the council has a duty to maximise its own efficiency savings?”

The Liberal Democrat group has also called for a council tax freeze.

The council will set its budget on Wednesday, February 26.