Somerset

Taunton Deane council plans tax increase

Taunton Deane Borough Council has rejected a government grant in favour of increasing its council tax by 3.45%.

The Tory-run council said the rise would help it close the budget gap and fulfil its regeneration aims.

Council leader John Williams said: "Taunton is on the threshold of a huge regeneration programme, it has already started and that does need funding."

The authority would have been entitled to a £139,000 grant from the government if it had frozen council tax.

Job cuts

Leader of the Lib Dem opposition at the council, Ross Henley, said: "John Williams and the Conservatives promised not to put up council tax at last year's election and he is now breaking his promise.

"Taunton Deane is now the only council in the south west out of 52 councils putting up council tax and the Tories are still making all the same cuts they proposed when they were still talking about a zero tax rise last week. Why put up council tax and still make cuts?"

The district council is also set to shed 26 posts, which will achieved by leaving nine posts unfilled and making 17 staff redundant.

Council house rent is set to increase by 7% which is about £5 per week but this is in line with a national formula councils use to set rents which is mainly inflation-based.

The council tax increase, which is an increase of 9p per week on a Band D property, will be used to continue with regeneration projects which the council believes is strongly supported by local residents.

About £200,000 will be spent on refurbishing Taunton's Paul Street multi-storey car park, and £100,000 will be spent on sprucing up the main shopping street.

A final decision will be made by councillors later in the month.

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