Anger as council tax rise looms
THE residents of one Suffolk borough have reacted angrily to news they may face more "unforgivable" inflation-busting council tax rises – despite a pledge by councillors to keep bills down.
THE residents of one Suffolk borough have reacted angrily to news they may face more "unforgivable" inflation-busting council tax rises - despite a pledge by councillors to keep bills down.
Current figures show St Edmundsbury Borough Council's portion of the annual levy will rise by 12% unless savings are made.
And, although officials say the budget process has yet to be completed, and are "confident" the figure can be reduced, campaigners fighting any further increases have labelled the situation "hopeless".
"I am absolutely shattered by this and it makes me feel ill. A 12% rise is unforgivable," said Carol Downie, who lives in Bury St Edmunds and has collected a petition against future high rises in tax bills.
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"I am living on a fixed income and find the situation hopeless, but it seems there is nothing we can really do about it.
"A town council has been introduced in Bury, costing more, and the members do nothing. It is an irrelevance and means 17 new councillors now also have to be paid.
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"I get my gas, electricity and water for half the price I pay for council tax. We seem to get nothing for our money.
"People are really starting to get frightened, and are extremely angry about these rises. I think more people will say that this is the last straw as this has gone beyond a joke."
Mrs Downie said her tax bills had more than doubled over the past six years, rising from £392 in 1996 to £769 this year - including a 25% single occupancy discount.
She also expressed concern over future plans to re-evaluate bandings based on house prices, which could leave residents suffering even more as a result of the recent property boom.
But councillors have pledged expenditure will be carefully examined in an attempt to reduce the figure further, with council leader John Griffiths saying: "When this administration took control in May last year, the projected council tax increase was 25%.
"A tremendous amount of work has been done over the past few months to cut that in half, but we will not stop there.
"I am committed to keeping St Edmundsbury's council tax as low as possible while safeguarding the quality services we are proud to deliver."
And David Nettleton, who serves as an Independent on the council, added: "I do not think it is beyond possibility that we can get the figure down to a 3% rise.
"It is unlikely that 12% will be the final figure as at the moment it is just a latest projection.
"Everybody will be working quite hard to reduce that level to one which is affordable, and in line with the rate of inflation, which involves looking at each item of expenditure."
The final bill will be discussed by the council's cabinet on February 12, with a further meeting, to include all members, taking place on February 26.