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Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council's cabinet set a 1.99% rise in council tax

A council tax increase of 1.99% has been set for Tonbridge and Malling.

Members of the borough council met on Tuesday feb17to agree the rise - the highest percentage the levy could go up by without calling a public referendum.

It would mean council tax on a Band D property changing from £183.85 to £187.51.

Tonbridge and Malling Council Offices at King's Hill
Tonbridge and Malling Council Offices at King's Hill

But cabinet member Sue Murray defended the average 7p a week rise as being value for money, saying it was the the equivalent of “half the price of a cup of tea”.

Director of finance and transformation Sharon Shelton warned councillors that the authority should keep £2m in its reserves to protect itself from future funding cuts.

Leader of the council, Nicholas Heslop, said that raising the rate was not a decision the council took lightly, adding: “We have prided ourselves on protecting services. We have done that since 2011 and think we are doing that very efficiently.

“Over the last four years a conservative estimate is that savings of about £2.8m have been made.”

Leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council Nicolas Heslop
Leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council Nicolas Heslop

The authority faces a 0.4% reduction in grant funding, buoyed by a 29% rise in its New Homes Bonus, a government reward for house building.

The council will receive £3.1m in the next financial year from the grant, up from £2.4m this year. Councillors also agreed to recommend that parking charges remain the same.

Cllr Martin Coffin, cabinet member for finance, added: “Our overriding objective this year is to protect the services we provide at a Borough Council level.

"This has proved very challenging given the substantial reductions in central government funding but the council is well aware of how important public services are to our residents and, in setting our budget, we have identified approximately half a million of savings without significant impact on our communities.”

Council tax bills will be sent out in March and full details of the budget will be available at www.tmbc.gov.uk.

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