Beds, Herts & Bucks

Buckinghamshire residents face up to 5% council tax rise

A council leader has blamed an "enormous rising demand for services" for a proposed 5% in council tax rise.

Buckinghamshire County Council is consulting on an increase of 2%, but is asking residents if they want to opt for 4% or 5% to generate extra income for road maintenance.

Conservative leader Martin Tett said the council also faced a further 24% cut in government funding.

The opposition has called the consultation "half-baked".

The council has frozen the tax over the last three years, but said there had been a 41% cut in government funding over the past four years and a further reduction is expected.

It said it also needs to save a further £60m to balance the budget.

Rising population

Mr Tett said the added challenges of a rising population had led to an increase in demand for services.

"I had hoped we could keep council tax frozen again this year but when you crunch the numbers in terms of the rising demand for school places, adult social care, vulnerable children etc, we just can't do that," he said.

He added if residents opted for the higher tax, the extra income would be "ring-fenced solely for use on roads and pavements".

A consultation on a new level is being conducted via a residents' survey, which also asks which council services people would be prepared to see reduced. A decision will be made in February.

The Liberal Democrat group leader, said there was a "long way to go" before any decision was made.

Avril Davies said: "It's a half-baked consultation, no-one knows the implications of raising or not raising council tax.

"Whatever decision is made will be very difficult because local government has taken such a big hit in funding during this parliament."

A referendum is needed for any increase over 2%, and if necessary, this would be held at the same time as local elections next spring.

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