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Medway Council to raise tax by 3%

By Caitlin Webb, local democracy reporter

Council tax bills in Medway will increase by just under 3%.

This means average bills for homes in Band D will rise by more than £41 from April.

Including the £24 increase in contributions to the police and near 3% increase for the fire service, the bill for Band D properties will total £1,686.34 for the year.

Council tax is set to rise by 3%
Council tax is set to rise by 3%

The council is expected to generate around £3 million from the council tax hike.

Despite cutting around £2.13m from their budget, Medway Council has to fill a £3.19m funding gap that is set to rise to £16.3m by 2022/23.

At the full council meeting last night, Medway Council leader Alan Jarrett (Con) outlined these plans in detail for more than 45 minutes.

He said: "In deciding what level of council tax levy, we have to make a judgement about the balance between service delivery to raising the income.

Cllr Alan Jarrett
Cllr Alan Jarrett

"Part of these considerations is how we react to the adult social care council tax levy set to 6% over three years.

"It was our view that we need to get this money in as quickly as possible, that means any council tax increase set for this year will be the minimum consistent with service delivery."

Cllr Jarrett pointed out that the increase is half of last year's which was 6%.

He also said the council tax rise is a result of the decrease in government funding for more than a decade.

He said: "The only reason that our spending power is increasing is because of the increase in council tax.

"This Conservative administration puts Medway and the people first..." Cllr Alan Jarrett

"This greater spending power has been used until now but it is no thanks to the government."

Despite representing the same political party as the government, Cllr Jarrett told the full council meeting how his group "will continue to criticise any government that [they] think are saying or doing things that are not in best interest of Medway people".

He added: "This Conservative administration puts Medway and the people first."

Leader of Medway Labour Cllr Vince Maple said his group will not be voting for the budget, which includes the council tax rise during his 30-minute speech.

Cllr Vince Maple, Labour, Medway Council. Picture supplied by Medway Council (7211721)
Cllr Vince Maple, Labour, Medway Council. Picture supplied by Medway Council (7211721)

Cllr Maple said: "The people of Medway didn't vote for a leader who put the interests of their own before the interests of their residents.

"That's exactly what they've done with this administration.

"Medway Tories are happy to complain about central government cuts to local budgets but what's propping them up are the very extremes that make them condemned on a daily basis."

The group proposed three amendments, which included scrapping the Medway Matters magazine to give the money to Medway Foodbank and the period-poverty Red Box project.

They also wanted to add a £5m Invest to Save Fund and the reintroduction of the annual visitors parking permit.

Cllr Maple said: "These amendments are a real genuine attempt to bring some positive change here in Medway, giving some hope and tackling real problems rather than producing a vanity magazine.

"We will make sure nobody in Medway is left behind, we will truly work for the many and not the few..." Cllr Vince Maple

"Standing up for hard-working council officers rather than ignoring increasing gender pay gap.

"Offering positive solutions we know residents are facing as a result of previous Tory decisions.

"We will make sure nobody in Medway is left behind, we will truly work for the many and not the few."

All of the proposals were voted down by the Conservative group.

Yet the Conservative cabinet members did scrap original plans to increase resident parking permits and bulky waste collection suggested by council officers.

But a large number of fees and charges issued by Medway Council are due to rise by around 3% from April.

This includes sport and leisure centre memberships and admission prices, weekend cremations, adult education courses and planning application charges.

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