Council tax to remain frozen for second year

Councillor Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council

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A COUNCIL has frozen its council tax for the second year in a row – without cutting any of its services.

Fareham Borough Council last night agreed to freeze its portion of the tax again, meaning the owner of an average band D property will pay £140.22 for its share.

Taking the county council, fire and police shares of the tax into account as well, this gives Fareham’s residents an overall bill of £1,385.73 for an average band D home.

This means the borough’s residents will have paid the same amount to the council since April 2009, and the eighth lowest for any district authority in the county.

Presenting the budget, Tory council leader Cllr Sean Woodward said: ‘Today the climate within which we operate remains very tough.

‘Services such as planning, land charges, car parks and commercial property all still bear the scars of the recession and have been unable to return to normal trading levels.

‘But despite a very significant grant reduction, I am pleased to say to our customers that council tax for Fareham will remain frozen for a further 12 months, at the level the council agreed back in February 2009.

‘In real terms, this has reduced the cost of council tax in a band D property by £14.14 next year.’

Cllr Woodward added that staff at the borough council have worked hard to absorb a 25 per cent cut in central government funding.

This cut led to the authority axing 42 posts last year, and the council is still planning to merge its legal team with Southampton City Council and share environmental services, building control and CCTV with Gosport Borough Council.

Proposing their unsuccessful budget amendments, the Lib Dem group’s deputy leader, Cllr Jim Forrest, called for money to be set aside to install solar panels on the civic offices. He also questioned whether £719,000 allocated to an area of housing that has yet to be approved could be put to better use.

‘The best way to fight recession is to invest for the future,’ he said.

‘It would be wrong at this point to seek more in taxation from residents to do so. But it is right to use some of the capital their past contributions have built, to ensure these hard times will be followed by a better future for their children.’

The council tax was approved by a unanimous vote.