Town will see no council tax rise for second year in a row

Gerald Vernon-Jackson at the election count this month Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180470-5)

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A TOWN’S taxpayers will see no rise in their council tax for the second year in a row.

Fareham Borough Council is recommending that a band D home pay £140.22 for its share of the tax.

If approved, it means the borough’s residents will have paid the same amount to the council since April 2009.

Tory council leader Sean Woodward, whose authority axed 42 posts last year, said: ‘We have managed to freeze the rate from the year before.

‘Last year it was only us that managed to achieve this and we have worked very, very hard to absorb the 25 per cent cut in central government funding.

‘It has been difficult – we have removed 18 per cent of our workforce and we are making radical changes to the way we work.

‘Where other councils are chopping staff in a panic we made the right decisions by looking at it earlier. We have entered 2011 in as lean a position as possible.’

The council is merging its legal team with Southampton City Council and will share environmental services, building control and CCTV with Gosport Borough Council.

And Cllr Woodward promised that front-line services would not be affected.

‘We will deliver them,’ he added. ‘It’s as simple as that.’

Cllr Roger Price, leader of the opposition Lib Dem group, said: ‘The council is not poor by any means, it has plenty in reserve.

‘But I think this year, once the central government announced it would give a top-up of two-and-a-half per cent to any authority that kept it at zero, they would have been stupid to not take the money.

‘Although the council did have its government grant cut this year, it still got £400,000 more than it expected, so it wasn’t as bad as presumed.’

He said keeping the streets clean would be a challenge, adding: ‘When I talk to senior officers, they tell me they have great difficulty in providing front-line services with the staff they have. But there has been a gradual reduction in numbers on those departments over the years.’

The council’s ruling executive will meet on Monday to discuss the proposals before they go to a special meeting of the full council for debate on February 25.

Hampshire County Council, police and fire are still to set their council tax figures.