Council tax bills frozen for third successive year

By Rob George Thursday 21 February 2013 Updated: 21/02 16:11

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Council leader Simon Geraghty. (s)

COUNCIL tax has been frozen for the third successive year after Worcester City Council voted not to increase its share of the bill.

Councillors approved the budget for the year ahead during a meeting on Tuesday (February 19).

Worcestershire County Council, West Mercia Police and Hereford and Worcester Fire Brigade had already agreed to freeze their portions of the bill.

It means homeowners living in a Band D property in the city will pay on average £1,453.52 during 2013/14.

A revamp of Fort Royal Park and a local mortgage scheme to help first time buyers are among the Conservative spending plans in a budget which was set against a "tough backdrop", according to council leader Simon Geraghty.

"The budget is a plan which seeks to do more than balance the books. It's a budget that I believe takes Worcester forward," he said.

"I believe the council should live within its means, we have already achieved £6million of savings, something I don't believe we would have achieved if we had let the council tax rise."

But Labour leader Coun Adrian Gregson attacked the spending plans and described the budget as 'draconian'.

"It will be interesting to see how many people who will be thrown on the local Government scrapheap because of the city council's upcoming commissioning programme think this budget takes Worcester forward," he said.

"If Coun Geraghty thinks this budget takes the city forward then I am afraid he is fooling himself and a lot of people around him."

Labour councillors proposed a council tax rise of 1.99 per cent - £3.23 a year on a Band D home - and accused the Tories of taking 'a £50,000 bribe' in the form of a Government grant which is handed to councils which freeze their bill.

Labour's finance spokesman, Coun Richard Boorn said: "Coun Geraghty has called our plans, which tackle the council's crippling finances, lazy. Well I am sorry but the lazy thing to do would have been to have kept silent."

But deputy leader Coun Marc Bayliss said listening to Labour's plans was like an episode of the TV drama Life on Mars and accused them of wanting to go back to the 1970s.

Labour's proposals were supported by Green Party councillor Neil Laurenson but defeated by 17 votes to 16 as the two Liberal Democrat councillors abstained.

But the Lib Dems did back the Conservative budget plans which were approved by 19 votes to 16.

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