Adur council tax to rise first time in years

WH 210714 Barry Mear, Sompting Parish Council chairman. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140721-225041001
WH 210714 Barry Mear, Sompting Parish Council chairman. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-140721-225041001

Adur district councillors agreed to increase council tax by the maximum level last week – the first rise in years.

Last Thursday, the Executive debated whether to increase the council tax to 1.99 per cent, after four years of tax freezes and one reduction since 2011.

A number of councillors objecting to the budget were criticised by opposition parties for not offering an alternative solution.

Labour councillor Barry Mears praised officers for an impressive budget, but added he would not support the tax increase.

He said: “We’ve been forced to put our tax up by central government and they’re passing on their problems to us, and I will not be supporting this.”

Conservative councillor James Butcher asked Mr Mears how he could commend a budget only to then object to it?

Mr Butcher said: “You stood up and said you thought the budget was very good and then said you weren’t going to support it.

“I just don’t understand how you can’t support a budget – probably one of the biggest things we deal with in the year – which you say you won’t support and [offer] no actual proposals for what we could be doing differently.”

Independent councillor Liza McKinney, who supported the budget, said a lot of people on low incomes, however, will find it ‘tough’ this tax year due to the increase.

She said: “At the end of the day there’s really not much anyone can say, it’s going to be jolly hard for the next year.

“My heart goes out to all those people who are going to find this year pretty damn difficult.”

UKIP councillor Geoff Patmore said the restructuring of in-house departments, which is expected to save the council £757,000 in the next financial year, will lead to a ‘disillusioned workforce’.

He said: “We need to be wary of the number of people we are cutting. That’s going to have a massive impact on us.

“Look after your in-house staff and I ask you not to keep removing staff at the rate you are.”

But Conservative councillor Angus Dunn said there is ‘nothing wrong with the budget’ and the council is ‘not slashing staff’.

He said: “We’re saving in the vacancies and those vacancies have been there and [are] sitting there, if the work is being done without those vacancies being filled then why budget for it?

“We aren’t slashing the service we are offering, in many cases we’re enhancing the service that we’re offering, certainly retaining previous levels.”

Conservative council leader Neil Parkin said he was ‘disappointed’ that two of the opposition parties objecting to the budget have ‘come back with no alternative’.

“It’s absolute nonsense,” he said.

“We will continue to reduce staff because they are our biggest overhead and in the coming year we’ve got to save £1m.”

The majority of councillors voted in favour of the budget, giving it the stamp of approval.

However, four UKIP councillors abstained from voting including, Ken Bishop, Paul Graysmark, Geoff Patmore and Lyn Phillips. One Labour councillor Mr Mears also abstained.

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