The Mansfield District Council precept for residents’ council tax will not increase in the next financial year.
The decision was narrowly taken by full council in a heated and passionate debate about local services, in which the Labour group tabled an amendment to the council budget that could have seen the precept rise by 2.7 per cent.
The Labour amendment suggested that an extra £4.99 a year for Band D properties, or £3.32 for Band A properties, could be “help within general fund balances to help reduce the impact of Government cuts”.
The amendment was tabled by Labour Councillor Amanda Fisher, of the Woodhouse ward, who sits on the ‘Select Three’ committee that scrutinises the council’s budgets.
She suggested that nobody in the Labour group “wanted to go forward with the amendment”, but that it was “necessary to fight £42m of government cuts”.
She said: “Everyone in Select Three discussed this motion and agreed that it is necessary.
“Nobody wants to put up council tax but we have a big black hole to fill in the council’s budget due to cuts.
“We need to take action in the authority, put people first and stop spending their money willy nilly.”
Coun Sonya Ward, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate, added: “We are not talking about £5 a month for most homes, we are talking about 6p per house per month.
“I think if you went into a pub in Mansfield and explained to them that we are asking for £3 a year to go towards neighbourhood wardens, towards supporting the community and can show where their money is going, most people would offer you a fiver.
“I hope we can find some money for services that we desperately need after almost 95 per cent cuts in government funding.”
The Labour group was accused by Mansfield Independent Forum and Conservative councillors of being the “party of taxes”.
Councillor Stephen Harvey even suggested that the man in the pub “would not trust the council” to deliver services after the “mismanagement” of the ice rink.
Tmendment was voted down by 19 to 14, meaning the Mansfield precept will not increase for at least the fifth consecutive year, an election pledge from mayor Kate Allsop in May’s election.
Coun Roger Sutcliffe, portfolio holder for finance, said: “I can’t believe that this has been put forward when we have a balanced budget.
“It is an easy way to try and tax the tax payer, but the County Council, Nottinghamshire Police and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service precepts will all be raising this year.
“The vital services the Labour group talks about will be supported by these increases, and it is the middle earners struggling to better themselves that I feel would suffer from this most.
“I feel a lot more comfortable going with a zero per cent increase and sticking to our pledge.”