Anger over plans for Ripon City Council to increase council tax charge by nine per cent
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But the decision did not sit well with all councillors with one angrily suggesting residents are being forced to eat at food banks while the council spends its money on “vanity projects” such as free events in the market square.
On Monday evening at Ripon Town Hall councillors met to discuss increasing the charge, also called a precept, on household council tax bills.
The council has frozen its charge for the last four years but Councillor Peter Horton argued the increase was crucial to “maintain high standards”.
A nine per cent increase works out at an extra £5.77 a year for Band D properties who will now pay just under £77 a year to the council.
Ripon City Council has few powers when compared to the larger North Yorkshire Council but it puts on well-attended free events for families throughout the year, including the recent New Year’s Eve celebrations at the Market Square.
Councillor Horton said: “I think the quality of our events has been much appreciated.
"Families who are struggling can attend for free.
“Every penny [of the precept] is spent in the city and nowhere else, not only on entertaining events on the square but on toilets, the paddling pool, improving bus services, grants to charities and of course our Christmas lights.”
With the country still in the depths of a cost-of-living crisis the proposal frustrated Councillor Pauline McHardy who noted that other public bodies such as North Yorkshire Council as well as the police and fire services also intend to increase their precept putting a further burden on struggling residents.
Councillor McHardy said the public would be “horrified” to see how much money Ripon council spends when putting on events.
She added: “It doesn’t matter saying it’s only five pounds, it’s a lot when added together. I think people have far too much to put up with.”
Councillor Julie Ann Long-Martin also said she wouldn’t be supporting the increase adding the council needs to look “long and hard” at the amount it spends on events.
Councillor Barbara Brodigan said it was a “disgrace” the council hadn’t provided financial support for families over the winter period while it spends “thousands” on Christmas lights and events.
She added: “People want food on the table rather than having a free events.”
Councillor Brodigan proposed increasing the precept by the current UK inflation rate of 4.9 per cent but it was narrowly voted down.
Speaking in support of the nine per cent increase, Councillor Jackie Crozier warned that event costs have increased due to inflation.
She said: “We don’t want anyone going to foodbanks but if we want services in our area we have to pay for them.”
Councillors voted in favour of the increase by five votes to four.