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Labour bids for council tax rise in Worcester
WORCESTER'S Labour Party has called for a council tax rise of almost two per cent in the city, it has emerged.
The group has now lodged an official bid to have a hike of 1.99 per cent debated during a crunch city council meeting on Tuesday.
If approved it would add £3.23 to the yearly £1,441 average band D bill, raising £93,000 in income.
They want Guildhall chiefs to reject £50,000 of Government cash offered as a reward for a freeze, and instead to ask residents for more money.
Councillor Adrian Gregson, group leader, said the council was becoming “anorexic” after successive freezes and that ongoing cuts is impacting on the city.
“We cannot carry on like this - at some point some party will have to take a stand and do the sensible thing,” he said.
"A council tax rise is planned by many councils across the country, both Labour and Conservative, as they see it as a responsible and prudent response to the Government's cutbacks."
Councillor Richard Boorn, Labour’s finance spokesman, added: “It works out at around 26p a month - if most people had that added to their bill they’d hardly notice.”
Some 64 per cent of Worcester’s homes are in bands A, B or C, and would pay between £2.15-£2.86 a year extra if the rise is approved.
As your Worcester News first revealed back in November, the Conservative administration is calling for a council tax freeze for a third year on the trot to help hard-pressed households.
But the Tories will need to rely on votes from the Liberal Democrats and potentially Green Party Councillor Neil Laurenson to force it through.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, city council leader, said: “This shows what would happen if Labour controlled the council - it’s a tax and spend, lazy route.
“We will oppose a rise full stop because we don’t believe it necessary.”
Worcester MP Robin Walker said: “People will be shocked at this idea - it’s unbelievable to think they would refuse Government help and ask working people for more money.”
The news comes two days after Worcestershire County Council agreed to freeze its portion of the council tax bill, which makes up 72 per cent of the overall amount.
The city council is responsible for 11 per cent of the bill.
A rise of 1.99 per cent is the maximum allowed under Government rules without resorting to a referendum.
Sources say a referendum in Worcester would likely cost £100,000 to stage, making that scenario a no-goer anyway.
Labour also wants a review of CCTV in Worcester with a view to potentially investing in a monitoring base in Castle Street, instead of just Pershore Civic Centre.
They also want all services at risk of being commissioned out to be examined to see if they can be retained in-house, or provided by a not-for-profit body instead of the private sector.
The city council’s 2013/14 budget is being set on Tuesday.