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Council tax frozen again after stormy Guildhall debate
COUNCIL tax has been frozen in Worcester for the third year in a row - offering some respite for hard-pressed households.
The Conservative leadership at the city council has won its battle to keep bills the same, meaning the average band D demand will remain £1,453 a year.
The Tories just about approved the 2013/14 budget amid stormy scenes at a full council meeting on Tuesday night, with Labour and the city’s solitary Green politician Neil Laurenson voting for a 1.99 per cent rise.
Across Worcestershire bills have now been finalised, including:
- Worcestershire County Council, which controls 72 per cent of the bill, agreed to freeze its portion last week
- The police and fire service, which get around 17 per cent of the bill between them, have backed a freeze of their portions
- Wychavon District Council voted in a freeze on Tuesday, keeping the average band D bill at £1,440 a year
- Malvern Hills District Council increased its portion by 1.99 per cent, taking the average band D charge to £1,482 (£2.65 extra a year)
- In Worcester, the only area of the city where homes will pay more is Warndon, where the parish council has opted for a 2.5 per cent rise (46p extra a year)
During Tuesday’s debate at the Guildhall, leader Councillor Simon Geraghty said it was “the right thing to do” for households.
“Freezing council tax will make sure we don’t increase the burden on hard-pressed families and pensioners on fixed incomes,” he said.
“There is no need to increase council tax this year - we have listened to the public, the vast majority of whom are against a rise.”
Councillor Adrian Gregson, Labour group leader, said the budget contained “draconian cuts” and was full of “Conservative dogma”.
During jibes across the chamber, Conservative Councillor Marc Bayliss, the authority’s deputy leader, said watching the Labour group was “like an episode of Life on Mars” and insisted it was the wrong time to increase bills.
The 2013/14 budget contains cuts of £686,000, which will rise to £1.2 million by 2014/15, including 26 job losses.
Labour’s attempt to force through a 1.99 per cent council tax rise failed after the two-strong Liberal Democrat group abstained from the vote.
The budget was then passed 19 votes to 16.
What you will pay in Worcester in 2013/14*
Band A £969.03
Band B £1,130.52
Band C £1,292.02
Band D £1,453.52
Band E £1,776.54
Band F £2,099.54
Band G £2,422.55
Band H £2,907.05
* Rates for households in St Peter’s and Warndon vary slightly