Council Tax rise slammed in ‘one per cent’ consultation row

Councillor John Wilmott of Hucknall First Community Forum
Councillor John Wilmott of Hucknall First Community Forum

A Hucknall councillor has slammed Nottinghamshire County Council’s consultation with the public over their council-tax proposals for the coming year.

The Labour-led council gave the go-ahead for a rise of nearly four per cent in the figure at their budget meeting, which lasted eight hours.

Coun John Wilmott, of Hucknall First Community Forum, who voted against the increase, said less than one per cent of Nottinghamshire’s population had responded to the consultation.

He added: “How you can make a decision on such a response baffles me to the core. People of this county are already paying one of the highest figures in the country and it is a damn check to ask them for more.”

Coun Wilmott pointed out that as a result of a meeting organised by the forum, he had been mandated to support a council-tax rise of no more than 1.9 per cent.

He asked how many of the council’s other 66 members had called a meeting enabling members of the public to give their views on the proposals - and there was total silence.

Coun Wilmott claimed that cuts by the council on street lighting might have saved energy but meant that roads with accident ‘black spots’ were affected, putting people at risk.

Because of difficult financial challenges, a joint budget proposal had been produced by the council across party lines to put before the council.

But after Labour introduced a two per cent levy to help fund adult social care, the Conservative group put forward an amendment seeking to limit the increase to 1.99 per cent.

However, this was defeated by 39 votes to 21 with five abstentions and the 3.99 per cent rise was approved with a vote of 39 to 26.

Council leader Coun Alan Rhodes (Lab) said: “We are facing a massive budget shortfall over the next three years. Funding from Central Government has fallen while the demand for vital services to protect some of the most vulnerable has gone up.”

He claimed that there was no choice but to impose the additional levy, which was a measure encouraged by Chancellor George Osborne.

But Coun Reg Adair (C) said his group could not support the extra amount because they thought it important to leave ‘a bit more money in council taxpayers’ pockets.’

All five members of the Liberal Democrat group voted for the additional charge and one of them, Coun Steve Carr, accused the Tories of ‘undoing all the council’s hard work’.

The Ashfield Independent group abstained from voting on the amendment and opposed the 3.99 per cent increase. Their leader, Coun Jason Zadrozny, said this was in keeping with a pledge they had made not to vote for council-tax rises.