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Good news for taxpayers as Fenland District Council votes to freeze Council Tax for 2019/20 - but bills will still rise thanks to county and police

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Fenland District Council has voted to freeze its share of your Council Tax bills for the coming year.

Fenland Hall March. (7379007)
Fenland Hall March. (7379007)

The move went against officer recommendations to yesterday's (Thursday) full council meeting, but after a lengthy discussion members voted to agree no rise for 2019/20.

However, not everyone was in favour with Councillor Ann Hay arguing members should vote for the recommended 1.9 per cent rise due to financial risks to the council.

She said a freeze in Council Tax would mean a second comprehensive spending review (CSR) would be necessary.

Councillor Chris Boden argued for a 1.97 per cent rise.
Councillor Chris Boden argued for a 1.97 per cent rise.

However, Councillor Chris Boden opposed the rise and backed the freeze and said the council should carry out a second CSR in any case to ensure "we continue to review what we do" adding "there are additional savings to be had and better ways to deliver services".

A report by the council's interim finance officer Kamal Mehta offered councillors two options: Freeze at the current 2018/19 level (0% rise) or increase by 1.97 per cent.

He also suggested that should the council wish to take the benefit of a full increase of three per cent then "this was the year to do it".

The report also pointed out the authority was looking at an underspend of £103,000 at the end of this financial year - part of the reason why members voted to freeze Council Tax this year.

It adds: "Local government has been at the forefront of the austerity measures introduced by the Government to reduce the national deficit following the general election in 2010. This council has had to reduce its net budget significantly since 2010 and by the end of 2019/20 it will have reduced by 35.03 per cent.

"Since 2013/14 government support has reduced by around 50 per cent and the council’s net budget by around 24 per cent. In addition, Council Tax referendum principles have restricted increases in Council Tax."

While the district council has not put its share up Fenland households will still see a rise in the Council Tax bills thanks to both Cambridgeshire County Council and the police force.

The county council has increased its share by nearly five per cent after members voted to “utilise the freedom offered to us by government” by raising general council tax by an additional one per cent this year, on top of the assumed increase of 1.99 per cent council tax and two per cent adult social care precept.

That will mean an increase of £62.50 a year for the average Cambridgeshire family in a Band D property.

Bill payers will also see the police force share rise by £2 to cover the county's policing, including an extra 50 ne

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