COUNCIL tax will not go up in Havant for an authority’s services for the seventh year running as it moves forward with a bid to outsource some services.
The Conservative majority at Havant Borough Council agreed taxpayers should pay the same amount for its services as last year – £192.78 a year for a Band D property.
Meanwhile, the authority is moving ahead with a deal with four other councils – Hart, Mendip, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse – to award HR, IT, finance, facilities management and property services to Capita and Vinci and save £11.5m over an eight-year period.
But opposition leaders have strongly criticised the direction of travel at the Havant authority and say taxes should go up, as agreed at neighbouring councils such as Fareham and Portsmouth.
Warren Park Labour councillor Beryl Francis said: ‘There must be a fear that if we continue to hold down our taxes much longer we may find in later years that we are working from a very low base which it would be almost impossible to continue safely.’
Labour also criticised the government’s plan to end its financial support for local councils, calling it a ‘dangerous policy’.
Cllr Francis claimed the five-council deal has been ‘shrouded in mystery’ and said her party ‘had grave anxieties for the future care of our workforce and for morale in the coming months’.
The authority’s leader, Councillor Mike Cheshire, vehemently defended the authority’s budget.
He told The News: ‘Unlike the opposition parties in the council, whose only solution is to raise taxes, the Conservative group will not raise local taxation on our hard-working residents until all other avenues of funding service provision are exhausted.’
Cllr Cheshire said the five-council contract was agreed under EU procurement law.
He said: ‘No councillors from any party from any of the five councils were involved in the dialogue. This was led by officers and specialists appointed by the councils involved.’
And Cllr Cheshire added: ‘The decision was made by cabinet, not full council on advice of the council’s lawyers, because this contract was within the policy set in the corporate strategy.’