Ashfield Council backs council tax rise

Councillors have approved Ashfield Council’s budget for the coming year – including a hike in council tax for all homes in the district.

By Andrew Topping
Friday, 4th March 2022, 2:49 pm

It means band D households across Ashfield will pay the authority £5 more from April, the maximum amount the council could increase its bills by without holding a referendum.

The majority of properties will pay either £3.33 and £3.89 extra, accounting for band A and band B homes, taking the total band D takings for the authority up to £195.46.

This is the highest council tax collection of all district councils in Nottinghamshire, despite several other authorities opting to take the same £5 band D increase this year.

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Coun Jason Zadrozny, Ashfield Council leader.

Coun David Martin, council portfolio holder for finance, told councillors it was ‘necessary’ due to years of cuts from the Government.

He said: “The medium-term financial strategy, the new homes bonus, the service grants and the lower-tier service grants [from Government] are all a one-year deal.

“They are having the largest impact on our plans going forward, because we can’t say with any assurance what we’re going to get from the Government – so we’re taking action to try and work in advance of that.

“It’s like having a crystal ball, but we’re doing the best we can, and our officers are very prudent in what they do. This is how we’re fighting this lack of clarity from the Government.”

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Tempers flared

The budget approval came following a two-and-a-half-hour meeting in which tempers flared between the ruling Ashfield Independents and opposition Labour and Conservative councillors over proposals within the budget.

Both groups raised questions about the authority’s plan to increase council tax in the midst of the cost of living crisis.

And they criticised the Ashfield Independents for proposing a tax increase one week after calling for Tory-led Nottinghamshire County Council to cut its own planned rise by 1 per cent.

Labour’s Coun Lauren Mitchell said: “I’m particularly sad this administration has found it necessary to increase council tax by the maximum amount possible.

“I’m even sadder they’re doing it at a brutal time for Ashfield residents facing a cost of living crisis from every angle.

“It’s also interesting many Ashfield Independents will vote to increase council tax tonight when only last week, at County Hall, the tax rises were an ‘evil’.

“Obviously the amounts are different, but saying one thing on Thursday and doing another the next Thursday is not a good look in terms of principles.”

And Coun Chris Baron, a Conservative, said: “Council leader Coun Jason Zadrozny wants to put the increase on Ashfield, but at County Hall, he doesn’t. Interesting that, I think it’s pot calling kettle.

“When you have things like the highest members’ allowance in Nottinghamshire, it seems there is something drastically wrong.

“You would have thought Ashfield Council would be putting a zero per cent increase forward, as they did in the election years.”

However, Coun Zadrozny defended the budget, saying: “What we’re proposing is, on average, a £3.50 annual increase on council tax, it’s 1p per day. At the county council, it’s far higher and intolerable given the cost of living crisis.”

Mansfield Council has frozen its council tax.

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