Decision to freeze district council tax divides parties - The Leamington Observer

Decision to freeze district council tax divides parties

Leamington Editorial 24th Feb, 2022   0

A DECISION to freeze council tax in Warwick district has divided party groups.

An agreement to keep Warwick District Council’s share of tax the same for the 2022-23 financial year was made last night (Wednesday February 23) at a budget-setting meeting.

This means the share of the tax paid to WDC by a band D household will remain at £176.86 for the coming year.

The sum helps fund services such as waste and recycling collections, street cleaning, maintenance of parks and public spaces, environmental health, licensing, planning and community protection.

Council leader Coun Andrew Day said the decision was among a number of measures to help alleviate residents feeling the ‘financial squeeze’ ahead – but the vote was not unanimous.

The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party proposed an amendment to increase council tax by 2.8 per cent – but were voted down by Labour and the Conservatives.

Green Councillor Will Roberts said his party felt the decision was short-sighted.

He said: “The council itself will see rising costs over the next year with inflation expected to hit seven per cent, according to the Bank of England.

“The Conservatives have failed to take a long-term view on council finances. Without this increase of 9p per week per Band D property, the council would be out of pocket by £282,000 annually, hampering council efforts to help the poorest in society.

“Perhaps the Conservatives are playing with the council’s finances to bring them in line with Stratford District Council as part of their merger plans?

“We must be prudent with our council finances and not think short term.”

The Labour Group’s proposal for an additional £25,000 grant to support food banks across Warwick district was also passed.

Group leader Coun Jonathan Nicholls said: “While we supported the council tax freeze, we are all very aware that it won’t be enough, and many of our residents are really struggling.

“With energy prices rising, a national insurance rise due and inflation, we know more help is urgently needed.

“However, the freeze will take some additional pressure off the worst hit. We also hope the hardship fund and extra funds for the food banks will help some residents who just cannot cope anymore.”

Residents’ band D bills will still go up this year by over £66, due to a previously announced £57 rise in Warwickshire County Council’s larger share of council tax, and a hike of over £9 by Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

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