Council tax frozen in Kettering for seventh consecutive year

Council tax.
Council tax.
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Council tax in Kettering has been frozen for the seventh year in a row.

The freeze was passed by councillors last night (Wednesday), despite calls from Labour to introduce a one per cent increase.

Council tax has been frozen since 2011/12, but opposition leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw said this would not be sustainable in the future.

He said: “Tonight we are being asked once again to agree to no increases in council tax for Kettering.

“On the face of it that sounds a great idea. But let’s look at this in a bit more detail.

“It might make easy and cheap political headlines, but is it financially sensible?

“This is exactly what the county council had done over recent years, and it has led them to the point of bankruptcy.

“We have long argued for small, measured and affordable rises rather than going from one extreme to the other.

“By once again proposing no rise whatsoever, the Tories are simply looking for short term headlines and piling up financial trouble for the future.”

But the proposal drew heavy criticism from Cllr Philip Hollobone, the town’s MP, who said it was in fact Cllr Scrimshaw who was aiming for the short term headlines.

He said: “Can I congratulate Cllr Scrimshaw on graduating with honours from the Tony Blair school of acting?

“How on earth could he stand there with a straight face when saying this budget is after short term political headlines?

“If this [Labour’s budget] was a serious budget we would have been circulated it in January.

“I think it’s remarkable that for the seventh year in a row this administration is proposing a zero per cent council tax increase.”

Cllr Hollobone also challenged Cllr Scrimshaw to produce a full budget earlier next year so that it could be “properly scrutinised”.

Labour’s alternative budget, which included 50p car parking on Saturdays and the setting up of a hardship fund, was defeated.

Council leader Russell Roberts said: “We do not wherever possible raise taxes and charge people.

“I can support a budget that is balanced and one that is going to take Kettering forward.

“Do not underestimate Kettering again. Our budget is a good one.”

Cllr Lesley Thurland, who produced the budget, added that freezing council tax since 2011/12 equated to a real-terms decrease of 11.9 per cent because of inflation.