Hartlepool council tax rises by 4.9% - find out how much yours will be

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Council tax bills are to go up by 4.9% across Hartlepool from April.

The increase will see families pay £1,030 a year for Hartlepool Borough Council services in the lowest Band A properties, rising to £3,092 for those in the most expensive Band H housing bracket.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

An average band D value property’s bill will be £1,546.

It comes on top of last year’s 3.9% increase, the first rise for five years.

At a full council meeting on Thursday night, all councillors supported a 3% rise to help pay for social care where the funding responsibility is being shifted from central government to local councils.

An additional 1.9% increase was voted for by the majority Labour Group.

Christopher Akers-Belcher. Picture by FRANK REID

Christopher Akers-Belcher. Picture by FRANK REID

It was opposed by all other parties and independent councillors who accused the council of wasting taxpayers’ money, and proposed various alternative ways of saving money that were all outvoted.

Council Leader Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher blamed nine years of “savage and unfair” Government funding cuts and council tax having to pay for more services.

He said the council is facing a gross deficit of £20.8m by 2019-20.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “This funding shift is the main reasons councils are facing a funding crisis and are having to increase council tax to protect services for the frail, elderly and vulnerable.

“So far we have managed this position while protecting the majority of services we provide, but we need to realise that it is not sustainable going forward.

“While I regret having to increase council tax I believe the Government is leaving us with no choice and it is up to councillors across the country to protect the most vulnerable in society.”

The 1.9% rise went through by 19 votes for to 11 against.

It will generate an extra £660,000 a year for the council.

But Coun Akers-Belcher said £212,000 of that will be eaten up by a new tax to help fund apprenticeships.

The Conservative Group proposed the council hands the running of the Mill House Leisure Centre over to a private firm to save £534,000 from next year’s budget.

Group leader Coun Ray Martin-Wells said: “Council taxpayers of this town are subsidising a swimming pool and leisure centre to the tune of over £10,000 every single week of the year.

“The Conservative Group don’t believe this is an acceptable use taxpayers’ money.”

Coun Akers-Belcher said a review of leisure services is to take place.

UKIP councillor Shane Moore proposed the RNLI run the lifeguards service.

He said: “There’s many different ways we could have saved money but it’s not in the report.

“The excuse is just ‘let’s tax people more’.”

Putting Hartlepool First leader Coun James Black described the 1.9% increase as a “kick in the teeth” to hard working residents adding: “We shouldn’t be putting our prices up because we’re not making the right decisions.”

The council agreed to halve its ward member budget from £132,000 to £66,000 to fund the lifeguards service.

Independent Coun Paul Thompson proposed scrapping the remaining £66,000 and charging councillors to pay for council parking with the proceeds going to the Adult Services budget. The proposal was lost after a vote.

The council also accepted increases in the Police and Crime Commissioner and fire brigade’s shares of the council tax of 1.9% each.

Total household bills in areas without a parish council for 2017-18 are as follows:

Band A – £1,222

Band B – £1,426

Band C – £1,630

Band D – £1,833

Band E – £2,241

Band F – £2,648

Band G – £3,056

Band F – £3,667