Criticism after councillors vote for 4.9% council tax increase in Hartlepool

Councillors voted for the increase in a meeting at Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Councillors voted for the increase in a meeting at Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Residents have hit out after a move to increase council tax by 4.9% in Hartlepool was rubber-stamped by councillors.

The motion was approved at a full meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council, with the increase to come into effect from April.

The rise is set to generate an additional £1.785million a year for the council, and includes a 2% increase for adult social care costs.

The move was defended by council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, who said it would allow the council to 'protect the vast majority of frontline services'.

The council has blamed the increase - the third successive annual rise taxpayers in Hartlepool have seen to their bills - on continued cuts in government funding and the increased demand for children's services.

However, the news has not been welcomed by readers commenting on the Mail's Facebook page.

Bob Snowdon posted: "See, I don’t know where the money will come from to pay for the increase in our household.

"I know it's caused by the Tory government, but our council have lost the moral ground by being as selfish as the evil party in power at Westminster.

"Shame on you Labour group, shame on you."

Chris Laybourn added: "Well there’s a surprise!

"So everyone in Hartlepool, are you going to do something about this at the next council elections?

"If you keep voting the present council in you are agreeing with this rise and I find this very hard to believe!"

Andrew Surtees wrote: "Where is this money going apart from overpriced bins in Seaton, the 50 degree heat in the Civic Centre or the pay rise the council have decided to give themselves?

"We have high crime, no police, high unemployment and no hospital, so basically I am paying a shed load of money to get my bins emptied."

Adam Rollinson said: "Stop voting for Labour councillors if you’re not happy."

Lynn Robinson posted: "They have no regard for us people who are on zero hours minimum wages.

"Where do they expect us to pull more money from?"

Others had more sympathy for the position the council was in.

Paul Moore Snr wrote: "It's not a surprise - it is the same as the others in the area."

Alan James added: "And yet people still vote Tory? Councils struggle to fund the basics after the millions in cuts from central government then wonder why council tax goes up."

Anth Frain said: "The question remains – without the rise our town needs to find £1.8million year-on-year.

"Which services would you see cut before you pay an extra 97p per week?"

Of the 26 councillors in attendance at Hartlepool Civic Centre yesterday, 16 voted for the increase, with 10 voting against.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: "I believe the budget we have already set for 2018-19 based on the proposed council tax increase of 4.9% is prudent and will enable us to protect the vast majority of frontline services.

"We want to protect the most vulnerable people in our town, in particular the elderly and vulnerable children.

"We were elected to be decisive and make these difficult decisions.

"We must remain hugely positive and still work tirelessly to ensure that Hartlepool continues to prosper.

"This is demonstrated by works which have begun on £8million of projects to regenerate key parts of our town."