Fareham council ups council tax by £5 a year to combat falling government grants

COUNCIL tax will increase in a borough for the second time in the last eight years.

A vote was taken by councillors on Fareham Borough Council last night on implementing a £5 rise in council tax for residents across the borough.

The Tory-led council agreed that the council tax bill for band D residents would go up by £5 a year – a rise of £145.22 to £150.22 and that a net budget of £8,616,700 would be set.

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Any increase in council tax had been frozen for seven years until last year.

The rise was supported by the Liberal Democrats – the opposition – and Cllr Carolyn Heneghan, the council’s sole Ukip representative, but was rejected by independent councillor Jack Englefield.

Councillor Sean Woodward said during the meeting: ‘After a very significant grant reduction this year from government and with further reduction to come, I am in a position where we must say to our customers that council tax for Fareham will need to increase for the second time since 2009.’

He said that despite the increase, the council’s rate ‘remains one of the lowest in the country’ and pointed towards the likely impact on residents that Hampshire County Council’s 4.99 per cent increase of £53.82 would have.

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Councillor Roger Price, the Lib Dems’ leader did not propose amendments to the budget but suggested a preference for smaller incremental rises with the council tax.

He also raised concerns about the council’s bulging £26.5m property portfolio and about the risk about potential further expenditure;.

Cllr Price said: ‘We are not saying do not do it but we would urge the need to pursue caution in case the economy changes drastically.’

Cllr Englefield, who said he had never rejected a budget before in his 23 years as a councillor, said: ‘On top of the increases in food, petrol and bills, I just cannot support the increases in this budget.’