Council tax in Brighton and Hove will go up just under 2 per cent next year.
Brighton and Hove councillors agreed to set a budget and the council tax as they met for a second time in a week.
They also threw out the Greens’ proposed 4.75 per cent council tax rise – again – which would have meant a local referendum.
After rejecting the Greens’ proposal, 12 Green councillors voted with Labour to ensure that a legal budget was set.
Four Greens voted against the budget, as did the Conservative, three Greens abstained and three were absent – as were two Tories.
Council leader Jason Kitcat told the meeting: “We do face a cliff-edge in our budget next year. And Labour supporting the Conservatives’ council tax freeze in 2012 has cost us £4 million.
“Blocking the referendum now only makes matters worse.”
He said that a council tax rise of 4.75 per cent was the only realistic long-term option, adding: “Cuts are damaging our ability to help the old, the vulnerable and the disabled.”
We must, he said, “find common ground for the greater good. We will not abandon this city to Pickles.
“He will happily, while shaking his head in sorrow, saying he’s only clearing up the mess while sacking staff and cutting services.”
He said that the Greens had stimulated a debate that the city had long needed to have about council funding and the pressure on services.
And he added: “This year is only the beginning. Next year we need to do so much more.”
Opposition Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald won applause with a slip of the tongue. Councillor Theobald said: “We have consistently said that there should be a council tax increase … er, freeze.”
He reeled off a list of Labour councils that had frozen council tax this year, adding: “This group here has been utterly consistent form the word go. We have said that we want to see a council tax freeze.
“You’re turning down £1.2 million from the government.”
Opposition Labour group Warren Morgan said: “It’s time for us to get on the job of running this council responsibly.
“There are very serious legal and financial consequences for ourselves if we deliberately frustrate the setting of a council tax tonight.”
He urged colleagues either to support or abstain to allow the setting of a budget.
After the meeting at Hove Town Hall Councillor Kitcat said that the cuts next year would be the worst yet. We can’t go like this.
He said: “The Tories were willing to push this all the way, take us over the cliff edge and put Eric Pickles in charge.
“He’s no friend of local government. We think the budget should be kept in the control of locally elected councillors.
“The 1.99 per cent was the lesser of the evils on the table.
“I’m disappointed by Labour’s approach.
“As a result of this we’ll be £7 million worse off next year.
“The Tories were reckless.
“Next year we need to take a different approach to the budget.”
Councillor Theobald said: “We have been clear and consistent for many months that the administration should accept the £1.2 million recurrent funding on offer from the government and deliver a council tax freeze.
“I am, therefore, very disappointed for the residents of this city that they have been lumbered with this above-inflation increase.
“I am especially disappointed with the Labour group for not supporting our freeze proposals.
“Their leader is constantly banging on about a ‘cost of living crisis’ yet here he is voting to push up people’s council tax bills.
“There are many Labour councils up and down the country such as Manchester, Sunderland, Newcastle and most Labour London boroughs who are freezing council tax.
“Why should Brighton and Hove be any different?
“We have shown, through our proposals, that it is perfectly possible to freeze council tax and still put money in to protect vital services such as short break respite for disabled children.
“This council tax increase is completely unnecessary.”
Councillor Morgan said: “This is a victory for common sense and the right decision for the city.
“We have set a sensible, inflation-linked council tax increase, avoided a referendum costing £900,000 and a tax freeze costing £800,000.
“We have not passed the cost of Conservative government cuts on to those who cannot afford it and most importantly we have kept control of our local services out of the hands of Eric Pickles.
“I’m please we have been able to save funding for respite care breaks for disabled children, funding for community grants and Pride, and support for Able and Willing, the supported employer for people with learning disabilities.
“There is still £3 million in contingency funds in the budget to support social care services.”
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.