COUNCIL tax will be frozen for the eighth year in Havant.
At yesterday’s Havant Borough Council’s cabinet meeting it was agreed that the bill will be left as it is, despite a drop in the central government grant of almost £460,000.
With the revenue support grant from central government decreasing rapidly we’ve had to be entrepreneurialMike Cheshire
That means the amount households will pay for services in Havant will stay at £192.78 for a band D property.
Council leader Mike Cheshire said freezing the tax – which is Conservative policy where possible – had been a struggle.
He added: ‘With the revenue support grant from central government decreasing rapidly we’ve had to be entrepreneurial.
‘We’re bridging the gap by turning ourselves into a joint-venture company, giving us opportunities for income from things like grass cutting and bin collections.
‘By joining with five authorities under contract to provide services through two commercial companies will give us economies of scale.
‘No services have been cut but we have squeezed the fat out of the system to the point where the pips are now squealing.’
Havant Labour leader Terry Hart said he was generally in agreement with the budget although he is worried that no increase in council tax now could hit ratepayers hard in a few years’ time.
He said: ‘I do think it’s part of election strategy.
‘We learned in the 1990s that it’s much better having a one per cent increase than getting to a position where five years down the line we have to put council tax up by five per cent.’
But Cllr Hart praised the joint venture company contract, and said it ‘unshackled’ the authority and staff are now happier because the council can bid for work – keeping them in jobs.
Meanwhile in East Hampshire, the cabinet is today voting on whether to decrease council tax by two per cent.
If, as expected, the cabinet agree, a band D property will pay £134.58 for East Hampshire’s share of the overall bill.
Councillor Guy Shepherd said: ‘It’s a first step in our plans to reduce our precept to zero.
‘We’ve generated income by investing in business, starting our own businesses as well as purchasing property.
‘This means we can maintain the same level of services.’