Residents across Derbyshire are to pay more in council tax to rake in an extra £5million.
Cash-strapped Derbyshire County Council agreed to increase its share of the tax by 1.98 per cent for 2015/16 at a meeting this afternoon.
In addition, the authority approved £45m of budget cuts over the next 12 months – its largest savings in three years.
SHOULD DERBYSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL HAVE INCREASED COUNCIL TAX? HAVE YOUR SAY IN OUR POLL ON THE RIGHT
Labour-led Derbyshire County Council needs to save £157m by 2018 as a result of Government austerity.
Its leader, Councillor Anne Western, said: “We don’t want to cut services or raise council tax − but we’ve got no choice. Two-thirds of our funding comes from the Government but this is rapidly being cut.
“We play such a vital role in residents’ everyday lives – from looking after Derbyshire’s roads to providing education for our young people and looking after our communities’ most vulnerable people.
“Ultimately these Government cuts will mean some of our services will have to change, reduce or stop altogether.
“We need to ask local people to pay more in council tax to help pay for the services that continue.
“It’s not something we relish doing.”
Cllr Barry Lewis, leader of the Conservatives at the authority, accussed Labour of being “obsessed” with raising council tax.
“They have a flagrant disregard for the day-to-day difficulties of the public of Derbyshire,” he said.
“The people of Derbyshire need a break from a council tax rise.”
The tax hike, which will come into force in April, means an increase of £21.75 a year − or 42p a week − for a Band D property and £16.92 a year − or 33p a week − for a Band B property. Most homes in Derbyshire are Band A or B.
Some of the ways the council intends to save £45m include cutting the county’s highway maintenance budget by £1m, spending £200,000 less on gritting and scrapping school crossing patrols.
A number of controversial measures which were approved last year – including changes resulting in fewer elderly and disabled people receiving free care at home – will continue over the next year.
Also at the meeting in Matlock, councillors voted to bring together Derbyshire’s eight district and borough councils with Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council.
The ‘combined authority’ would support Derbyshire businesses to grow and prosper; encourage investment in firms, transport and homes and create more and better-quality jobs.
If the proposals get the green light from all Derbyshire’s councils, it could also mean more Government funding for the area.
Cllr Western said: “This isn’t about merging local councils – each one would continue to run services in their own right.
“It would mean councils across Derbyshire coming together to improve the local economy and conditions that support growth and create jobs for the good of the whole of Derby and Derbyshire.
“It will also mean we can access more Government funding to help do this.”
If the plans are approved by all ten councils, proposals will be submitted during the next two weeks to central Government for further formal consultation with a view to setting up the ‘combined authority’ in October.
• The amount of money residents pay for policing in their council tax will rise by 1.99 per cent to generate £1m a year.
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles agreed an increase of £3.39p per year for a Band D property at a meeting last week.