Council tax rise for Wellingborough residents agreed

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Wellingborough Council set what is likely to be its last ever tax levy last night and decided to raise it by 4.5 per cent.

Residents in a band D property will now pay an extra £4.83 a year for borough council services after the proposed rise was agreed by the authority’s full council. The amount will go up to £115.54 a year.

The increase will come into force from April and will add to the number of other council tax rises that will be introduced by other public service providers such as the county council, the police, fire service and the parish councils.

The council is set to be scrapped in April 2020 along with all other borough and districts councils and the county council to make way for a new unitary authority.

In its budget papers the authority had originally stated a £5 increase but this was amended last night as it would have taken the council over the five per cent level and meant it would have had to call a referendum.

Council leader Martin Griffith said the authority had a good council tax collection rate, but that only 10p of each pound that authority collected goes into the council’s pot with the rest being distributed to other agencies.

He said: “We are committed to providing high quality and affordable services and facilities for our residents, while ensuring that Wellingborough’s Council Tax remains one of the lowest in the county.

“Councillors resolved to increase Wellingborough’s proportion of Council Tax for 2019/20 by 4.5 per cent, which is the equivalent to less than £5 per year to the average household bill.

“The council retains 10p of every £1 collected, and the remainder goes to Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

“We work very hard to ensure that we are able to provide essential services for our residents and we will continue to deliver a free garden waste collection service, and provide free parking for visitors to the town.”

The move to increase the council tax was agreed by all of the 29 councillors present, including the Labour opposition.

Opposition leader Andrew Scarborough said: “The full extent to which the homelessness crisis has blown us off course is massive. We are having to use huge amounts of capital resource. We have nowhere else to go. No-one likes putting the council tax up but we have no choice.”

The authority has spent million-pound sums on temporary accomodation for homeless households this year as part of its statutory duties.

Also at the meeting the council agreed to a reorganisation order following an earlier community governance review which will lead to a new town council being created. It will come into effect at the same time as the unitary council and there will be elections. In the coming months the borough council will decide which powers to devolve to the new council.

And the authority was the second in North Northamptonshire to formally back preferences for the new unitary authority.

After a series of meeting between leaders and chief officers from across North Northants it has been agreed that 78 councillors should sit on the new unitary authority. These preferences will go forward to the secretary of state James Brokenshire who is expected to make his unitary decision before the Easter break.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service