By Naomi Wilcock
Brighton and Hove City Council is planning to raise council tax by 3.5% for the next two years, according to a budget announcement last Thursday.
Photo used under Creative Commons by CascadeAndSTAN
The Green-led council rejected a £3m one-year Government grant by not freezing council tax but said that increasing the tax will ensure key services are protected.
According to the draft Green budget, freezing council tax rates one year would lead to an 8% increase the following year.
Jason Kitcat, a Green city councillor, said: “It’s clear that council tax is an imperfect system, but it’s one of the few options councils have to raise income.
“We understand the difficult economic times and so we feel a steady below inflation, increase in council tax is preferable to a huge jump next year.”
Brighton and Hove is the first council to reject the grant by not freezing council tax, which the Prime Minister, David Cameron, described as a “huge mistake”.
It was also announced that there would be £35m worth of savings and new income over the next two years.
Other proposals in the budget included an increase in parking permit fees for Brighton’s traders and businesses
Permits for traders are set to increase from £350 to £600 per year, whilst permit fees for businesses are to rise from £175 to £300.
The Green Party had previously announced that traders would pay permit fees of £750 per year and £400 per year for businesses.
These proposed increases led to a protest by firms and traders outside Hove Town Hall on Friday before a council meeting.
Elliot Raggio, from Traders Need Transport, said on the BBC’s Sunday Politics South: “If they [the traders] believe strongly in not putting their prices up, they’re either going to be putting more free time into their business, which is going to put a burden on themselves and then eventually they’ll either give up or have to shut up or move away from Brighton.”
The final decision on the council’s budget will be taken on Thursday, February 23.