Council tax hike on the cards as grant rejected

AVDC council tax bill.
AVDC council tax bill.

IN a controversial move, Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) is planning to turn down a government grant which would enable it to keep council tax down for the coming financial year.

Instead of accepting the cash payment to freeze council taxes for the 2012/13 financial year, AVDC proposes to increase council tax by 2.5 per cent.

The Council Tax Freeze Grant is an incentive offered by central government. Councils that freeze or reduce their council tax for the coming year will get a one-off grant equivalent to raising council tax by 2.5 per cent.

An AVDC spokesman said: “At cabinet’s request the resources and corporate performance scrutiny committee considered whether it would be appropriate to accept the government’s council tax freeze grant or to reject it and implement an increase instead.

“Given the one-year nature of the grant, the committee considered that the council needed to take a longer-term view on budget planning and that to accept the grant would represent a short-term solution which ignored the difficulty this would create.”

The proposal comes after our sister paper The Bucks Herald revealed that AVDC councillors agreed in a secret meeting before Christmas to bid £13.75 million to purchase land in Aylesbury, believed to be Hale Leys shopping centre.

AVDC’s cabinet will consider the council tax recommendation next Tuesday.

District councillor Robin Stuchbury said: “I would need to be completely reassured that the capital project the council wants to undertake is not the reason we’re raising council tax by 2.5 per cent. I’m going to be minded how this will affect people on lower and fixed incomes and pensions who have no ability to meet this rise. At the moment I find myself unable to support it.”