First Rother council tax rise in six years backed

Bexhill Town Hall SUS-160128-113926001
Bexhill Town Hall SUS-160128-113926001

The first increase in Rother’s council tax for six years was backed by the district authority cabinet yesterday (Monday, February 15).

Rother District Council cabinet members voted in favour of the 1.94 per cent rise in line with the officer’s recommendation.

The executive director of resources Malcolm Johnston recommended council tax for the average band-D property be set at £164.32 and the 2016/17 budget be £11.86m.

But the final decision will be made by the full council on Monday.

Cabinet member for finance, resources and value for money Lord Ampthill said before the meeting that the council is facing some ‘very difficult financial decisions’.

“We’ve made huge savings and reduced staffing levels dramatically over the past five years, while managing to freeze council tax,” he said.

“We’ve done everything possible to cut costs, but we’re facing a continued funding squeeze, and raising council tax could be a way of ensuring we can continue to deliver the level of services people expect.

“Rother has the lowest level of council tax in East Sussex, and we expect this to continue to be the case, whether or not there is an increase.”

The increase is just shy of the maximum 1.99 per cent increase local authorities are permitted without a referendum, which could cost the council up to £70,000.

This would mean an average increase of 6p a week and would generate £155,000 for Rother’s budget.

In his report, Mr Johnston said the financial pressure on the council is ‘immense’ due to an almost 43 per cent reduction in government funding.

“The financial pressure on the council continues to be immense,” he said.

“The savings already achieved are substantial and the full impact on service delivery is yet to be fully felt.”

You can still have a say on the budget before it is decided, by visiting www.rother.gov.uk or email consultations@rother.gov.uk, before Monday’s meeting.

The council will be deciding on whether to approve the recommendation to move the Rye Town and Ewhurst Green polling stations at the meeting.

The licensing and general purposes committee advised moving the polling station from Tilling Green Community Centre to Badgers Gate as the centre is not available for the police and crime commissioner elections in May.

The committee also suggested moving the Ewhurst Green station to Herdman Pavilion from the White Dog Inn.

Councillors will also be making nominations for chairman and vice-chairman to replace Jim Carroll and Paul Osborne respectively.

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