Haverhill Town Council has come under fire for considering a four per cent hike in council tax.
West Suffolk Tory MP Matthew Hancock has attracted a backlash of protest from Labour councillors after pledging to fight Haverhill Town Council’s proposals to increase its Council Tax precept by four per cent. Mr Hancock said he and local Conservatives will be fighting the rise the town council is considering as it has a responsibility to live within its means, rather than burden the taxpayer.
He went further, saying the increase should be subject to a local referendum because it would be more than two per cent. A four per cent hike would increase tax by nearly £5 a year, and 10p a week for a Band D property.
“Labour’s plan to hit people in Haverhill with a hike in council tax is completly unacceptable, which is why local Conservatives will fight it every step,” he said.
“It is down to councillors to find savings, rather than burdening taxpayers in Haverhill.”
In Mr Hancock’s press statement, Tory Town Councillor Betty McLatchy said: “We should fight this increase tooth and nail. I have always believed we have a responsibility to protect taxpayers from increased bills, which is why Haverhill Conservatives will be opposing this increase.”
The town’s mayor, Labour Councillor Roger André said Mr Hancock’s intervention is unwarranted and entirely inappropriate.
“The setting of the local precept is not a matter for a local MP to influence,” he said.
“It should be noted that Haverhill Town Council has yet to determine the precept for 2014/15 and has instructed the town clerk to investigate options, including the implications of replacing the lost Council Tax Support Grant by increasing the precept.
“Early indications were advised to the town council that a reduction of £33,333, after identified efficiencies elsewhere, would require an increase of approximately 3.9 per cent - roughly equivalent to £5 per annum for a Band D property.”
He added that the issue has arisen from SEBC withdrawing transfer of Government funding over four years.
Labour Group Leader Cllr Maureen Byrne said the town council has made no decision and that Conservative councillors had endorsed and supported the last report option of increasing the precept by four per cent to enable the continuing provision of many services, events outings and children’s activities.
The Haverhill Echo would love to hear what Haverhill taxpayers think of a rise.
Would you be happy to pay an extra £5 a year to maintain free events and the current level of town council services?
To take part in our survey, go to