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Windfall brings tax figure down

MOST Hyndburn residents will pay a total of £799.74 in council tax this year - a rise of 9.22 per cent on last year's figure.

MOST Hyndburn residents will pay a total of £799.74 in council tax this year - a rise of 9.22 per cent on last year's figure.

Hyndburn Council agreed to reduce its share of the council tax from 4.9 per cent to 3.9 per cent after it received an unexpected windfall of £235,000 from overpaid business rates on two leisure centres.

The total amount means that all those living in Band A properties - around 60 per cent of the borough's population - will pay an extra £67.53 this year.

The council tax rise came under fire during a meeting of the full council when the opposing Tory group, led by Councillor Peter Britcliffe, submitted an alternative budget with a zero per cent increase and more money for area councils, although this was defeated.

Councillor Britcliffe said: "That money you're talking about is not a windfall - it is money that the council tax-payer has overpaid. Give them that money back. We have got to give the public a system that will work and not one that has been rushed through."

But fellow Conservative councillor Doug Hayes said that he couldn't accept his party's alternative budget.

He said: "The money that we have received will not make one iota of difference to the public if they get it back - but it would make one big difference if it was used to bring a better quality of life to people in the borough. Collectively, that money could be put into different areas or projects. I am sure we can come up with some ideas for it to be used properly.

"The Conservatives are for lower council tax but nil council tax is a different matter."

Councillor Ian Ormerod, leader of the council, agreed with Councillor Hayes, saying: "I think Doug probably expressed an awful lot of what most of us think. We could have given that money back, and we debated it, but it would have been irresponsible. To a Band A property owner it is 8p a week.

"We have a tremendous opportunity here and you don't get that very often. At 3.9 per cent this council tax is one of the lowest in the country.

"It would have been irresponsible to lower it to zero per cent as obviously there would be a knock-on effect in future years, which would be detrimental to our community."

The council is also setting up an action fund of £100,000, which would be available for bids from the borough's community groups.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist