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South Hams 1.9% tax rise call

SOUTH Hams Council is likely to increase its share of the council tax by 1.9 per cent – but Government delays mean the figure isn’t set in stone.
Because the Government hasn’t yet released the figure at which tax rises are to be capped – and referenda triggered – the figure may have to be changed.
However, the executive committee has recommended the increase – equivalent to a 5p a week rise – which the council will vote on February 13.
For band D tax payers, the new figure will be £145.42 – an increase of £2.71 a year.
Car parking and ferry prices will be frozen for the fourth year in succession, which was the equivalent of a 12 per cent reduction, said council leader Cllr John Tucker.
‘I know people won’t see it like that because they still have to pay what it is,’ he said.
Cllr Julian Brazil said that not having the cap figure was ‘totally unacceptable,’ and urged the council to write to ‘that muppet Pickles’ (Eric Pickles Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) and protest.
John Squire, the Conservative councillor for Wembury and Brixton, became a lone voice speaking out against the council tax increase, saying it might be only a 1.9 per cent increase but a lot of people had their wages restricted to one per cent.
‘I know it’s only 5p a week, but we say that year after year after year,’ he said.
If other authorities increased their council tax by the same proportion, the picture would be completely different,he added.
‘A lot of people are struggling, a considerable number of people find it difficult to manage.
‘I don’t think it reflects well on this authority.’
However, Cllr Tucker told him: ‘We have no control over other precepting authorities. We have to do our business.’
Earlier Cllr Tucker said that the council tax rise – which will produce £5,173,275 – was ‘a combination of many years of very strong financial management’.
He told the committee that the £50,000 revenue support grant had been more than expected, but in the next few years he expected not to have any at all from Government. Cllr Brazil said: ‘There will be a slight bit from business rates, but I can see it disappearing altogether in three or four years time.’
Cllr Brazil added he was very disappointed the council was pressing ahead with a proposal for a seasonal closure of the public toilets.
He told the meeting he represented a large rural constituency with links to the South West Coast Path, where two loos were being closed, yet £10,000 was being spent on the Follaton House toilets.

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