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Council tax is to rise by 6.2%

COUNCIL tax bills in Kirklees are to rise by 6.2% - almost two-and-a-half times the rate of inflation.

COUNCIL tax bills in Kirklees are to rise by 6.2% - almost two-and-a-half times the rate of inflation.

The final agreement puts band D charges for the year at £1,004, an increase of £58.

Average bills will be £812, up by £46.

Party political groups clashed over the size of the council tax increases. It took more than seven hours of talks before the figure was finally resolved at a full council meeting.

The length of the discussions brought a plea for a sense of proportion to be kept.

Clr Kath Pinnock, the Liberal Democrat who leads the hung council, said: "There is considerably more agreement about the budget than not.

"The difference between the lowest and largest budget is less than £2m out of a net budget of £371m.

"We agree on 99.5% of the budget proposals."

Proposed increases for band D bills ranged from £46 wanted by Tories to Labour's £62.

Liberal Democrats put forward a £58 hike and the Greens £59.

COUNCIL TAX: What you will pay

Band A: Present: £631 From April: £670 Annual Increase: £39
Band B: Present: £736 From April: £781 Annual Increase: £45
Band C: Present: £841 From April: £893 Annual Increase: £52
Band D: Present: £946 From April: £1,004 Annual Increase: £58
Band E: Present: £1,156 From April: £1,227 Annual Increase: £71
Band F: Present: £1,366 From April: £1,451 Annual Increase: £85
Band G: Present: £1,576 From April: £1,674 Annual Increase: £98
Band H: Present: £1,892 From April: £2,008 Annual Increase: £116

See subsequent pages for the rest of the story...

The clash was finally resolved after a series of adjournments at the council meeting for the party leaders to have private talks.

Different ideas for spending and savings were pooled to result in the 6.2% rise.

Clr Gary Dimmock, Labour group leader, called for more money to be put into old people's care.

"We in Labour are very clear about wanting our elderly and disabled people to live in dignity in their own homes,"

Tory group leader Clr Robert Light today condemned the 6.2% rise.

"It is an absolute disgrace that a budget approaching 2.5 times the rate of inflation has been accepted," he said.

Clr Andrew Cooper, leader of the three-strong Green Party, said savings could be made without hitting services.

One step would be to remove water coolers which had sprouted in council buildings, he said.

"It costs us £40,000 a year. They are not environmentally or economically justified," said Clr Cooper.

Tories came under fire for attempting to cut arts spending.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Clr John Smithson it would have led to the closure of the Lawrence Batley Theatre if it had been accepted.

The new budget will see £205.9m going into education, £79.5m for social services and £20m for highways.

A total of £10.6m will be spent on leisure and recreation.

* Council taxpayers in Calderdale face a 6.26% hike in their bills.

The figure is being recommended to a council meeting tomorrow.

The rise would mean the band D bill jumping by £59.80 to £1,015.27 from April.

Clr John Ford, leader of the Tory-controlled council, blamed a cut in Government grants.

Bills are rising higher than the Tories wanted because of the jump in police levies which is also affecting Kirklees.

Clr Ford said: "As much of this increase was caused by the troubles in Bradford, central government should have made a substantial contribution to the cost."

He said the spending plans meant the council would be prudent but at the same time able to prove adequate services to the whole community.


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