Council tax rises by 4.5%

Test Valley’s Tory controlled council has approved a 4.5% increase in council tax for the year 2008/2009. When added to similar increases approved by the county council, this will result in a total council tax for a band D property in Andover of £1330.61. 

 In a last minute change of policy funding was found for voluntary car schemes, but only for cars carrying patients to and from hospital. The funding is worth £15,000 in Andover with similar amounts allocated to Romsey, Baddesley and Wellow. An attempt by Liberal Democrats to allocate extra funding to rat catching was rejected. “I am asking Test Valley to continue free rat clearance and to provide the Environment and Health Department with sufficient resources to meet this plague of rats head on”, said Cllr Mark Cooper. 

Speaking on the budget I said “The main problem facing this council is the outdated council tax structure and insufficient government funding. Until this is replaced by a fair system of local income tax we will continue to struggle to balance our books and provide the level of services our electorate expect of us.”  I queried whether the council could continue to find cost savings of £300,000 every year without threatening services and called for a review of the council’s publicity budget, currently over £400,000 per year, and the subsidised garden waste collection scheme. Also needing review is the Andover levy which should be accountable to the people of  Andover through their own town council.

Free car parking will remain after 4:00pm. This was a Lib Dem initiative to encourage shoppers into our towns and any withdrawal of this could threaten the local economy. Other parking charges will increase and are expected to generate an extra £70,000 but this will only cover the £60,000 loss on the current charges. Could it be our charges are already at a level where resistance is such that we are driving customers to shop in other towns?

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