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COUNCIL TAX: Public face inflation-busting increase in April

Friday 28th February 2020

COUNCIL tax-payers are to be hit with an inflation-busting rise in charges in April.
Liberal Democrat-led Maidstone Borough Council voted through the hike of 2%, taking the average bill for a property in Band D to £1,899.
The Bank of England currently pegs the rate of unflation at 1.5%. 
Although the increase received a broad support from all the political groupings at a meeting of full council last night, three independent members rebelled and some Conservatives have deep-seated concerns.
Taxp-payers will see bills range from £1,226 for Band A properties through to £3,800 for a Band H and rural dwellers who live in a parishes will have an additional precept to pay for. This will range from £24 in Boughton Malherbe to £122 in Headcorn.
Cllrs Eddie Powell (Independent Maidstone) and Tom and Janetta Sams (both Independent) voted against the budget.
All three have been at the forefront of the opposition to Maidstone Borough Council's plans to be the "master developer"of a 5,000 house scheme at Lenham Heath.
Lib Dem leader Cllr Martin Cox relied last May on the Sams' votes to form his administration. They have since publicly withdrawn their support, making it hard to see how he will form another council unless the Lib Dems can win more seats.
Cllr Powell said: "The council is throwing the tax-payers' money at planning schemes and housing projects that the people of Maidstone don't want. It's not easy to take a stand and I felt up against it - you get the looks and and the glares from people.
"But I have to do what I think is right."
Cllr David Burton, the Conservative member for Marden, said he voted for the budget but with "very big concerns".
he is worried if there are enough people in place to cope with the deluge of planning applications expected as a result of the "call for sites" exercise ahead of the Local Plan Review.
he told daily Downs Mail: "I have asked many questions about this budget but I haven't managed to get to the bottom of it in operational terms. I voted for the budget because we have to have balanced budget but I have very big concerns about it.
"I wonder if there are sufficient officer resources in there to get the revised Local Plan done to deal with the applications that will come in. It feels to me that we are undermanned."
He added: "Roll on May when the elections take place. If we can get a majority Conservative administration, we can have a proper look at what's going on."