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Up to 50p a week rise in tax after town hall vote.

Byline: Sarah Dale Reporter sarah.dale@trinitymirror.com

FAMILIES in Middlesbrough will pay up to an extra 50p a week in council tax from next month. A 1.85% rise in council tax - equating to 31p a week extra in Band A properties and an extra 48p a week in Band B - has been agreed by Middlesbrough councillors tonight.

e council chamber voted 25 in favour of the budget and 15 against with Labour voting for the rise and Conservative and independent councillors voting against.

e elected mayor Ray Mallon - who steps down in May - announced his Budget in October of PS14.1m cuts. Following consultation, he said that all his proposals would stand except an amendment relating to the camera enforcement initiative on the bus lane on Newport Road.

Mr Mallon said an acceptance of the Government's Council Tax Freeze Grant would result in a further budget reduction of PS400,000 for 2015/2016 and an overall additional nancial shortfall of PS17m over the next 10 years.

Cllr Chris Hobson, leader of Middlesbrough Conservative Party, said the council should accept the freeze grant. "Last year we had PS3m in uncollected council tax and PS4.5m this year," she said. "Residents have been squeezed enough."

But Independent Cllr Len Junier agreed with Mr Mallon that the freeze grant is a "con".

He suggested an amendment to the budget to refuse the Government's freeze grant but to freeze council tax for one year, which was seconded by Cllr Derek Loughborough. Councillors voted 11 for and 24 against the amendment.

Independent Cllr John McPartland suggested an "alternative budget" which would "save over PS200,000" by slashing the new mayor's salary by half and for all councillors to give up their Special Allowances for two years.

Mr Mallon gave the chamber short shrift in his closing speech calling Cllr Junier's argument "incoherent" and said the Conservatives "would vote against anything".

"If you vote against this budget you're voting against looking after children and voting against looking after the elderly and voting against the Living Wage and all the things that are righteous," he said.

It is about doing "what is right" for the town and its residents and not what is "popular", he added.

CAPTION(S):

| Mayor Ray Mallon, above, Tory |leader Cllr Chris Hobson, above right and Independent Cllr Len Junier, right

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 5, 2015
Words:390
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