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Mid Suffolk: Council and opposition group clash over tax freeze

07:00 15 February 2013

Andrew Stringer, opposition leader at Mid Suffolk District Council

Andrew Stringer, opposition leader at Mid Suffolk District Council

Archant

AN OPPOSITION group is calling for an increase in council tax to secure an authority’s finances.

The Suffolk Together, Green and Independent Group wants Mid Suffolk District Council to raise its share of the tax by 1.95%.

The council’s executive voted on Monday to accept a Government grant and freeze council tax in the district.

Andrew Stringer, opposition leader, explained the case for a tax rise.

He said: “Our group believes the offer of a grant to freeze council tax should be rejected and that the tax should be increased by 1.95% in 2013/14.

“This is necessary to increase the tax base, which would otherwise be diminished by inflation, giving slightly more scope to lessen damage to services in subsequent years as Government cuts deepen in 2014 and beyond, possibly without the offer of “freeze” grants.

“The administration’s proposal to accept the freeze grant for the second year in a row would seriously impair the council’s ability to raise finance in the future.”

But the leader of Mid Suffolk, Derrick Haley, rejected the opposition’s proposal.

He said: “We do not see any real reason for imposing an increase on people. We do not think it’s the right thing to do because everyone is struggling to meet all of their budgets. Why would we want to increase council tax? We have to look in the long-term.”

The opposition group also argues the council’s New Homes Bonus of £1.2million for 2013/14 should be invested into the economy.

Its proposals include £100,000 for home insulation grants and £150,000 for sustainable business growth.

Mr Haley said: “We talked about the £200,000 community fund as a start. When we get the priorities in place, we will spend the money according to those priorities.”

The council has outlined plans for £200,000 for towns, parishes and community groups.

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