Public consulted over tax plan

Bexhill Town Hall
Bexhill Town Hall
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Pay more council tax or risk losing some local services - that is the stark choice facing Bexhill residents.

Rother District Council is canvassing opinion from across the district as to whether the cash-strapped local authority should raise its part of the council tax or freeze it for the fifth year running.

Council tax makes up over half the income Rother gets to provide services. The remainder is made up from a grant from central government.

But that grant is down from 60 percent in previous years, meaning RDC has to plug the gap to be able to deliver mandatory services.

Rother has already saved £3.8m by implementing a raft of cost-saving measures, including cutting its workforce by 27 percent and freezing staff pay for three years.

But the council says it has to cut costs even further, due to the continuing shortfall in government funds.

Rother says it has to choose between freezing the tax or implementing an increase of just below two percent.

Central government caps all local authority rises at two percent.

RDC says it’s currently minded to support a continued freeze.

But a freeze could put discretionary services provided by RDC at risk, including maintaining parks, public conveniences, and car parks.

The Rother Council Tax Consultation closes on February 20.

Cllr Robin Patten, RDC cabinet member for finance and value for money, said: “Over recent years we’ve faced very significant reductions in the money we receive from central government, including an expected 13.6 per cent reduction in funding for the financial year ahead.

“Like every council in the country, the economic climate in which we are operating means we’ve had to make difficult decisions and the impact on services is yet to be fully felt.

“However, we also have to take into account the financial pressures that people in Rother are facing and to do whatever we can to help them.

“I’m proud that we’ve been able to freeze council tax for the full term of this council, and will be calling on members to do so again.

“I pay tribute to the outstanding efforts of all our staff who continue to ensure our many services are delivered successfully.”

* To have your say, fill in the survey form available on the Rother Council website: http://www.surveyserver.net/?budget2015