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Kingston Council Tax rise approved
4:17pm Wednesday 27th February 2013 in News
Proposals to raise Council Tax in Kingston by almost two per cent have been approved.
The 2013/14 budget, which included a 52p a week rise for residents in Band D properties, was passed by Liberal Democrat members at a full council meeting last night.
The increase - which equates to about £27 a year - will be introduced in April, after the council refused the Government's financial offer to freeze the tax for another year.
Presenting the budget, councillor Rolson Davies, lead member for finance and resources, blamed the Government's austerity programme for the council's decision.
He said: "Local government has been subject to the biggest spending cuts in any Government sector, and we're expecting ever diminishing resources."
Coun Davies accused local government secretary Eric Pickles of trying to make local authorities "impotent" and offering councils "bribes" in the form of the council tax freeze grant.
But the budget was opposed by members of the Conservative party, who proposed an amendment calling for the council to freeze the tax for another year by drawing funds from the authority's reserves.
Conservative Richard Hudson also announced he had launched an e-petition calling for a referendum on the issue, which had so far attracted more than 800 signatures.
Coun Hudson said the purpose of the petition, which closes in the summer after the tax rise has already been introduced, was to demonstrate residents' opposition to the increase.
The council's 1.99 per cent increase narrowly avoids triggering an automatic referendum on the issue.
The Tories' amendment was defeated by the Liberal Democrat majority, by 25 votes to 19.
Conservative leader Howard Jones, who had to leave the meeting early to attend a family matter, said afterwards: "The administration fails to see that people in Kingston are finding things financially very difficult and to have another rise in council tax putting us as the highest in London is missing the point.
"By good housekeeping and a real intention to make things better this council could provide the services and manage its affairs within budget.
"They just have no appetite for living within their means and being prudent."