Council tax in Babergh may rise 2% - but Greens say it could've been less

North Street car park, Sudbury. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Opposition councillors say parking charges would've lessened the need for a council tax rise in Babergh - Credit: Archant

Council tax in Babergh would not have to rise by 2% if car park charges had been introduced, opposition group councillors have said.

The budget does not do enough to address the climate emergency either, according to Green councillors.

Babergh District Council’s Conservative, Independent and Liberal Democrat coalition cabinet will next week discuss proposals to raise council tax by 2% from April, the equivalent of an extra £3.48 on a Band D home.

The Conservative cabinet member for finance, Simon Barrett, said the budget plans would enable the authority to continue delivering services and invest in the market towns without needing to reduce free car parking.

But the opposition Green group said the budget does not do enough to address the climate emergency declared in 2019, and introducing the car park charges could have lessened the council tax increase on homes.

Leigh Jamieson, Green group leader, pointed to the words “where financially viable” in the budget proposals around climate emergency measures.

“The climate and biodiversity crises should not be an afterthought only tackled ‘where financially viable’, but be the first thing to consider with policies being guided by that goal,” he said.

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“For example,  the council is spending increasing amounts on maintaining car parks and nothing on promoting and encouraging community transport such as buses. In fact, it refuses to put up charges at those car parks and if they had then the council tax increase would have been less than 2%.

“This is the same council that declared a climate emergency in 2019 and pledged to try and reach net zero by 2030. If the council isn’t going to take leadership, why should local businesses and residents?

“The council has been cutting costs for years. We doubt there is any further fat on those bones. Emergency entails a sense of urgency. There is little urgency in this budget.”

The cabinet will consider the budget at its meeting next week, before being presented to full council on February 21 for a final decision.

Babergh’s portion only makes up a part of the full council tax bill, with the county council and police elements also included. A 4.2% rise has already been approved for the police element (£10 a year extra for a Band D home), while a 3% rise is planned at the county council, also due for final approval in February.