Council tax to rise for residents

Gosport Borough Council leader councillor Mark Hook
Gosport Borough Council leader councillor Mark Hook
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A DECREASE in government funding is to blame for an upcoming increase in council tax, according to a council.

At a Gosport Borough Council meeting the council discussed the need to meet a budget deficit of £825,000 by 2022, with a three per cent increase in council tax playing a part in meeting that deficit.

According to the council, almost 52 per cent of the council’s total revenue funding comes from council tax.

But leader of Gosport Borough Council Cllr Mark Hook says that frontline services ‘will not be affected’ by the need to make cuts.

He said: ‘To achieve a budget we will have to make important and difficult decisions.

‘It is important we maintain and deliver all our frontline services.

‘We need to recognise that there is still a significant deficit to be met in the coming years.

‘I cannot reiterate enough the need to maintain our reserves to ensure we have a robust budget.

‘We will continue to review the way we work to ensure we are at our most effective and efficient.

‘We want to spread the savings which in turn will allow other initiatives to take effect to help towards the necessary savings to ensure we continue to deliver all frontline services.

‘I believe our overall current financial position is both sound and robust.’

Leader of the Labour Party Cllr June Cully said: ‘We went through all the options and had to accept that this was the best that could be done.

‘Fortunately, the increase in council tax is only a small increase.’

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Cllr Peter Chegwyn said: ‘The budget is grim reading for Gosport.

‘Essentially the council tax is going up by as much as it is anywhere else in the country – the council is almost going bust due to a lack of funding from government.’

The Liberal Democrats voted unanimously against the budget, due to an increase in the allowance given to council members.

Cllr Chegwyn said: ‘It doesn’t make sense for us to need to make cuts but also give ourselves a payrise.

‘As councillors we should set an example to people and I feel as though we aren’t doing that.’

Cllr Mark Hook said: ‘The allowance is set by an independent committee, which reviews it every few years.

‘Part of that review is based on the work we do as councillors – all we do is agree on the committee’s findings.

‘It is something that the Liberal Democrats like to play politics with but it is up to each individual councillor as to how much they want to take.’