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Royal Borough agrees rise in council tax bills

James Harrison

James Harrison

Council tax bills will rise by almost four per cent after the Royal Borough agreed new spending plans.

Full council met in Maidenhead Town Hall last night (Tuesday) to discuss the budget for the next financial year,

The decision means a Band D property will have to fork out £961.46 — made up of a core council tax increase of 0.95 per cent to £915.57 and an adult social care levy of three per cent which will add £45.89.

This figure does not include addition precepts from the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner and the Berkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, which will also be factored into the final bill delivered to households.

These have yet to be issued, but responsibility for adding them was also delegated to cabinet member for finance, Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Bisham and Cookham).

Introducing the proposals, he defended the extra expense for households to meet the ever-rising costs of adult social care.

"We're all aware of the growing needs of our older residents and the likelihood that these will continue to rise," he said.

"After the coming year there is a need for this to be addressed at a national level and from progressive taxation.

"Two per cent last year, three per cent more in the coming year - many residents will not resent for one moment paying this."

He also dismissed as 'silly' suggestions that increases to council tax bills were needed now due to cuts made over previous years, added: "We didn't tax our residents more over the past years because we didn't need the money."

All councillors voted in favour of the spending plans bar Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green), who said although he broadly agreed with the budget he still had some misgivings and chose to abstain.

Cllr Lynne Jones (Old Windsor Residents' Association, Old Windsor) gave her support.

She said: "We have a balanced budget and the take up of the Adult Social Care Levy is justified and I agree with the lead member [Cllr Saunders] that increased demands should not be funded at local authority level."

She added: "In the past I have not supported budgets because they were proposed for political motives - this budget has more of an evidence base.

"I believe this budget is the most realistic this council has produced."

She singled out Cllr Saunders, thanking him for the amount of time he had given to discuss it with her, and praised the plans for being 'officer-led'.

However, later in the meeting she was forced forced to defend herself against what she called 'pathetic individual targeting' from Cllr Geoffrey Hill (Con, Oldfield).

Cllr Hill, cabinet member for customer and business services, had been responding to comments made by Cllr Jones at the last cabinet meeting on Thursday, February 9, at which she had raised the amount of time it takes call centre staff to answer the phone.

Cllr Hill claimed she had exaggerated how long she had waited on several occasions.

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