Devon

Plymouth 1.99% council tax rise approved

Plans to put up council tax in Plymouth by 1.99% for three years from April have been approved by the city council.

Thirty Labour councillors voted in favour of it while Conservatives abstained, arguing they did not have enough details to make a decision.

The Labour-led authority said the "modest rise" was part of work to deal with a projected £64.5m shortfall over three years in its annual £212m budget.

Opposing Conservatives said the rise was not fair on local residents.

The Labour administration said it had little choice but to increase council tax bills after what leader Tudor Evans said were cuts in government funding that left him "lost for words".

It said government funding squeezes meant £16m of savings had to be made over the next financial year alone.

'Foolish to pretend'

Finance portfolio holder Mark Lowry said: "The council delivers some 300 very important services.

"It's foolish to pretend you can do so without a modest council tax rise."

The Conservatives, the city's current opposition party, said they were not happy about the proposals, claiming they were not fair on local residents.

Councillor Ian Bowyer, who leads the Conservative Group, said: "We abstained because we don't think the budget is safe.

"We need to have the confidence that we have all the information necessary. We simply didn't have that today."

The initial rise will mean an increase about £25 a year on a band D property.

However, council tax levels have to be set annually by whichever party is in power, so these rises could be changed if another administration comes to power in the meantime.

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