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Councillors agree to council tax rise for Bishop Auckland
A TOWN council has voted in favour of increasing its council tax precept in order to maintain services and community events.
Members of Bishop Auckland Town Council last night (Tuesday, January 15) voted favour (seven/two) of a 22 per cent rise for 2013/14 – which equates to a rise of 43 pence a month for a band D property.
Councillor Alan Anderson, who leads the town council’s finance committee, told the group careful consideration had been given to everything to ensure services will not be affected.
“The precept was set too low six years ago and we have been playing catch-up ever since,” said Coun Anderson. “If we get the level right then there will be no need for big rises.
“We have got the right people in the right places for this council to move forward and we need the new council (after May local elections) to be on a good solid foundation.
“Everything in the budget is down to the bone.”
Councillor Barbara Laurie said: “I think we need to have a bit more ambition for Bishop Auckland and put ourselves in the big league.
“What this town needs is a council that has a vision. We can make opportunities for the town and individuals but we can’t do it without this rise.
However, not all councillors were in agreement with the proposed rise.
Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Councillor Charlie Kay blamed the coalition Government for reductions in the council tax base rate, leaving the town council with the problem of cutting the budget or raising council tax.
He proposed contribution reductions to Bishop Auckland Food Festival, town council membership and training and civic duties. However, he failed to get support for his plan.
“We are asking the people of Bishop Auckland to pay for this Government's incompetence. I won’t support this budget per se.”
Councillor June Lee was the only member to support Coun Kay, although she did not agree with his suggestion to reduce food festival funding.
She said: “The perception will be that we are raising it 22 per cent. It is too much for people outside to understand why we have had to hike it up.”