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Torridge District Council votes to freeze its share of council tax

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: March 07, 2013

By Philippa Jenkins

CONCERNED: Pauline Davies

CONCERNED: Pauline Davies

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TORRIDGE District Council has voted to freeze its share of householders' Council Tax bills.

Councillors voted to freeze their council tax at a full council meeting on Monday night at Bideford Town Hall.

It came after an alternative suggestion – to increase their council tax share by three and half per cent – was defeated on the casting vote of the chairman.

That earlier motion had been presented by Councillor Philip Collins, who represents the Clinton ward.

By freezing council tax TDC will receive a £35,000 grant from the government which is on offer to all local authorities which freeze their precept.

But Mr Collins said that if TDC increased the council tax by the full amount – which amounts to approximately £5 for an average band D property – the income raised would amount to an estimated £108,000 leaving an extra £73,000 generated to form a hardship fund.

He added: "It is a difficult medicine to put up council tax but if it can be ring-fenced then this money can be put to good use."

The proposal left some councillors focusing on the extra money cash-strapped housing benefit claimants will have to find on top of the 25 per cent they will have to put towards their council tax from April, due to changes in the benefit system.

Councillor Pauline Davies, who represents Bideford East ward, said: "I had to go to eight families over Christmas. They didn't have enough money to put food on the table.

"I tell you now it will not work. These people can't even afford to feed their children."

Other councillors argued that for the sake of an extra few pounds a year there will be a much bigger hardship fund created which those who are struggling financially can then apply for.

Councillor Geoff Lee, who represents the Torrington ward, said: "I think there is a lot of merit in this suggestion. There is a lot of hardship in certain quarters and if you are going to take £5 from someone to feed someone else then I think it will work.

"In two years time the situation may be better, do give this some thought."

Councillors reached a stalemate in their vote with 14 councillors voting for the proposal as well as 14 voting against it.

It left the casting vote to the chairman of TDC Councillor Andrew Eastman, who represents the Appledore ward.

He voted against the proposal.

This left councillors voting on the proposal of freezing council tax.

A majority of 23 councillors voted in favour of this meaning the freeze was approved.

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