Harborough District Council freezes council tax

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The zero rate rise promised by Harborough District Council was confirmed in a full council meeting this week.

The Conservative-controlled council, which covers Lutterworth and Broughton Astley as well as Market Harborough, has now frozen its share of the council tax for six years.

The district council’s deputy leader and finance portfolio holder Cllr Phil King said the district rates freeze showed the council was “building on our record of sound financial management”.

And he pointed out that Harborough District Council had the highest spending per head of the seven district councils in Leicestershire, despite having the smallest Government funding per head.

The council has generated more than £800,00 through house building via the New Homes Bonus scheme. It has also been successful in growing business rates.

Both these sources of income will be increasingly important, as the Government phases out its grants by 2020, making local government completely self-financing.

The council’s core funding from the Government has decreased by 19 per cent between the current financial year and the next one.

Liberal Democrat opposition councillor Simon Galton said the council had “refused to take advice” from Lord Porter, the Conservative chairman of the Local Government Association, to put rates up to cover the loss of funding from the Government.

“The strong advice from him was to protect your income and don’t allow your base to be eroded,” said Cllr Galton.

“Yes, OK, there’s an argument from Lord Porter about that,” responded Cllr King. “I don’t actually agree with him philosophically.”

Opposition councillors Dr Sarah Hill and Barbara Johnson also criticised the ruling group again for their controversial green bin charges.

Cllr King said that the council had to plug a £1.4 million a year gap caused by the loss of external funding, and a reduced market price on the sale of recycling materials, and the council did not have to provide any green bin 

“You have to make decisions” he said. “And the new scheme is happening, people are subscribing - 4,000 of them so far.”

Council tax for Leicestershire people will still go up, because Leicestershire County Council and the county’s police force want to increase its rates by 3.99 per cent.