Tories and Lib Dems call for council tax freeze

Bury Town Hall

Bury Town Hall

First published in News

Opposition parties have urged Bury Council to freeze council tax — as leaders finalise their budget plans.

Bury’s Conservative group have called on the Labour-run council to “at least freeze” the level of council tax when they announce the budget on February 19.

Bury Council increased council tax by 3.7 per cent last year, with savings of £10.4 million to be made for the 2013/14 financial year.

Tory councillors say the freeze can be achieved due to a grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government, which is equivalent to a one per cent tax increase, in place of a tax rise.

They will put forward a motion which will be debated by councillors at Bury Town Hall on Wednesday.

Tory leader Cllr Iain Gartside said: “Financially there is no real argument against taking up the offer and freezing council tax.

“Things have been tough economically but things are picking up now and I think it would be a shame if, by hiking council tax again, this is jeopardised.”

Under rules announced by the Coalition Government, any local authority which increases council tax by more than two per cent must hold a referendum.

After last year’s budget was approved, a row broke out over whether Bury Council would have to hold a vote.

However council leader Cllr Mike Connolly said, because increases in levies for waste disposal and transport were not included in the council tax rise calculation, a referendum was not needed.

Lid Dem leader Tim Pickstone added: “At the moment when so many people are struggling with increasing household bills, we are opposed to any increase in council tax. Last year Bury’s Labour council turned down money from Government to freeze council tax, and the same money is on offer here and we would urge them to accept it.”

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