Meeting confirms council tax reduction

By Surrey and Hants News in Politics

A meeting of East Hampshire District Council’s full council on February 23 rubber-stamped the proposal to cut its share of the council tax bill by 2:6 per cent for 2017-18.

The reduction will bring the council’s precept on a Band D property down to £131.11, from £134.55, and follows a two per cent cut last year. A third cut in the pipeline for 2018-19 will take the figure to its lowest level since 2006-07.

This year’s cut, part of the council’s strategy to become financially independent, means residents of the district will see an increase of £170,000 in their combined spending power.

Council leader Cllr Ferris Cowper said: “This is a historic evening. We are bucking the national trend and cutting our council tax, while all the other local authorities I know of across England and Wales are increasing theirs, and often by the maximum amount allowed by central government.

“This council has the ability to bring council tax down to zero and enable us to not have to rely on government grant.

“I hope this latest consecutive cut shows you that we’re pursuing this strategy for the benefit of our residents and businesses.

“We’re doing this by taking a different approach to how councils have traditionally operated - we’re making our own money without cutting services or increasing the burden on our residents.

“My aim is to ensure East Hampshire is as prosperous as it is possible to be and for it to continue to be an amazing community to live in, work in or to visit.”

Council departments have marketed their services to other authorities and local organisations to generate extra income. The planning services, community, communications, programmes, neighbourhood planning and regeneration teams are expected to make a collective contribution approaching £1million.

The council has bought six commercial properties since 2013, for £12.5m, which produce nearly £850,000 in rent every year - around £700,000 more than could be gained through interest on cash deposits.