Suffolk county tax up by 4.5pc

Residents in Suffolk will pay an extra 4.5pc towards the county council's share of council tax after the rise was approved last night.

Residents in Suffolk will pay an extra 4.5pc towards the county council's share of council tax after the rise was approved last night.

But the budget figures presented at the full council meeting were heavily criticised by Labour opposition members, who said the authority was like the Titanic heading for the icebergs.

Jeremy Pembroke, Conservative leader of the council, said the rise had been kept as low as possible to serve the majority of residents who did not call on services, but he was worried that the rise, which will cost a band D property 86p a week, would be difficult to bear for pensioners.

"I worry about the people who pay council tax," he said. "I pray for our pensioners that they will get a better deal."

Mr Pembroke and members of his cabinet said the government settlement did not provide enough cash to fund key services, such as adult care.

Julian Swainson, leader of the Labour group, said the proposed handover of more front line services to the private or independent sector, would hurt those on low incomes.

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"This is old style, screw the poor conservatism because you don't really care about them," he said. "And there is no Kate Winslet or Leonardo di Caprio to raise the spirits of this Titanic."

The council also supported plans for a medium-term financial plan that could involve restructuring the entire authority.

A 2.9pc council tax rise has been set for South Norfolk despite a bid to peg the increase to 1.4pc by sacking some council bosses.

John Fuller, leader of the Conservative group, came up with the cost-cutting idea as an alternative budget to that of the ruling Liberal Democrats.

He claimed residents had been overtaxed by more than £1.5m in the past two years and accused the LibDems of building up an election "war chest".

"You don't have to make cuts to make savings. That means slimming down the senior management structure. It's ridiculous to have 13 directors for a business that turns over just £12m," he said.

The 2.9pc increase, approved by a 23-17 majority, means a band D property will pay £127.52 for district council services, compared with £123.93 last year, which represents an increase of less than 1p a day.

Band D householders in Breckland will have to pay just two pence more a week in council tax for district council services.

Councillors set next year's budget yesterday and deputy leader William Smith said that while in every other council in Norfolk the Band D bill was a three-figure sum, in Breckland it would remain a two-figure sum

"Council tax will increase by two pence a week to £60.32 but the news is better than that," he said. "Seventy-eight percent of all tax payers live in bands A-C and for them the average council tax bill is £1 a week for everything."

Council taxpayers in Broadland will pay an extra 2.85pc, it was agreed last night.

The rise equates to less than 6p a week, and means a Band D council taxpayer will now pay £103.95 a month.

The council said the rise was below the rate of inflation.