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Local government minister Nick Raynsford told a Rother DC delegation that its proposed 9.8% council tax increase ma...
Local government minister Nick Raynsford told a Rother DC delegation that its proposed 9.8% council tax increase made it 'vulnerable' to capping.

Council leader Graham Gubby responded that the authority would 'robustly defend our desire' to maintain high quality services. Rother will decide its rate on Monday.

Mr Gubby was accompanied by chief executive Derek Stevens and resources director

Pav Ramewal.

They outlined the council's historic position regarding its low levels of taxation set since 1974, informed the minister as to the council's record in financial prudency and efficiency as demonstrated within District Audit management letters, auditor judgment and the council's very high rating on all financial areas as reflected within the government's performance indicators.

Mr Gubby also outlined the additional pressures placed on local government by central government, specifically the transfer of responsibility for liquor licensing, demands for increased performance on recycling, increased cost of central government inspection, etc.

A council spokesman said:

'The minister clearly recognised the work which the council had done and its good record in terms of taxation, financial prudency and efficiency.

'However, in recognising that the council's proposed tax increase of 9.8% was only 22p per week in actual cash terms, he pointed out that, 'the public would only look at percentage figures' and that the government were keen to see as low an average increase nationally as possible. He made it very clear that the government would be bringing in capping measures, and that in his words, 'Rother DC was very 'vulnerable' given its current proposed increase in tax level'. He asked that the council continues to consider the likely tax increase in view of his comments regarding capping, and whilst recognising that we were a low tax, efficient council, he urged that consideration be given to ways and means of bringing the increase down.

'The meeting was he ld in a very sympathetic and understanding manner with both sides being quite clear as to the position of the other.

'There was clearly mutual benefit gained from this meeting, the atmosphere was convivial, but the minister gave a clear message of 'the determination of government to cap if and where necessary'. Mr Gubby responded by saying that 'The council will robustly defend our desire to maintain high quality services to our residents'. He later added, 'The very people who we are here to help, the old age pensioners, families on low income, small businesses and the voluntary sector will be hardest hit if we do not have the money to maintain support for the many services and projects across the district'.'

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