THOUSANDS of residents have received their annual council tax bills – but it was not the first rise in six years which upset a senior Labour member.
Former parliamentary candidate Jim Deen complained to Worthing Borough Council over the ‘blatantly political nature’ of a letter by Tory leader Dan Humphreys, sent to every household with the annual bills.
Mr Deen was incensed by a reference to the ‘national deficit inherited from Labour’, as Mr Humphreys defended the work of the council amid cuts from the Government.
But the council will take no action, while Mr Humphreys described Labour’s concerns as ‘confected outrage’ just weeks before local elections.
In a letter to chief executive Alex Bailey, Mr Deen wrote: “This is not the place for a debate on the complexities of these financial matters, although I am always happy to have such a debate in the right place and at the right time.
“But you and councillor Humphreys must also be aware that politicising the information sent out to council tax payers in this way is totally inappropriate.”
A council spokesman said the ‘personal communication’ aimed to establish the rationale behind the increase and was a ‘reflection of the local and national context.
He added there would be ample opportunity for the parties to debate the topic in the run-up to the elections.
Mr Humphreys said: “The document that accompanies this year’s council tax notices has clearly hit a nerve with the local socialists but it merely sets out the context in which we have successfully frozen council tax for five years and maintained key services such as the weekly bin collection – both things that the vast majority of Labour-led councils have failed miserably to achieve.”
The council agreed a 1.96 per cent rise in its precept last month, having last raised council tax in 2010 by 2.5 per cent.