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Torridge District Council votes to increase council tax

PUBLISHED: 09:53 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 10:51 25 February 2014

Riverbank House.

Riverbank House.

Archant

Councillors voted to put council tax up by 1.95 per cent for the first time in three years despite sitting on £1million in unallocated reserves.

TORRIDGE District Councillors have voted to increase council tax in the region for the first time in three years despite sitting on £1million in unallocated reserves.

Councillors voted to increase council tax by 1.95 per cent by a majority of seven votes which would provide the council £25,000 more than accepting the freeze grant.

The extra £77,620 revenue gained will be split between a discretionary financial and homelessness budget which would be set up, and the economic regeneration budget.

The increase will see a Band D property in Torridge pay an extra £2.79 a year.

The council also voted to plug its funding shortfall with £436,000 from the New Homes Bonus to ‘buy time’ to examine how future cuts could be made.

Council leader Cllr Philip Collins said: “If we take the 1.95 per cent increase that is equivalent to nearly three jobs at this council.

“68 per cent of residents in Torridge live in band A to C properties. Nearly a quarter are in Band A – this increase amounts to three-and-a-half pence a week for them.

“I regret that we have to be considering an increase but I will support this amendment.”

But Councillor Anna Dart said she was concerned the increase would become a ‘Robin Hood tax’ and could not support the vote.

“We’re looking to take money from people who are actually struggling but can we really help the people we are giving the money to?” she said.

“I think it’s admirable what you’re all debating but I doubt it will make a difference.”

Councillors also heard they were sitting on £1million in unallocated reserves for ‘unforeseen items’.

On Thursday, Devon County Council voted to increase its council tax to 1.99 per cent, and on Monday Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue service increased its precept by 1.99 per cent.

Devon and Cornwall Police has also increased its council tax precept to 1.99 per cent.

This will see the average Band D property in Torridge have an increase of £33.18 during the 2014/15 financial year.

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