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TORIES SHOW FOUR-YEAR COUNCIL TAX FIGS UNDER LABOUR/LIB DEMS

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New figures have been released showing the extent of likely council tax rises over the next four years under Labour...
New figures have been released showing the extent of likely council tax rises over the next four years under Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The calculations are based on the assumption that council taxes rise over the next four years by the same percentage as they have risen over the last four. Figures have been produced for all London and metropolitan councils, and for certain unitary authorities. They show dramatic increases in taxes in many areas.

Furthermore, businesses in Labour areas could be faced with hikes in their business taxes before the next set of elections in London.

Shadow environment secretary Norman Fowler said:

'In Labour's first year in office, England has seen record rises in council tax, with an average rise of 8.6 per cent.

'Even John Prescott has admitted that taxes would not have risen by this amount under Conservative plans.

'In many cases, the council tax has risen by well over 10 per cent - as a direct result of Labour's policy of moving millions of pounds out of London and the shires.

'The combination of Labour in power nationally and locally has resulted in the highest taxes.

'Our message during these elections has been that 'it's time for a change in local government'.

'Today we can reveal the full extent of likely council tax rises over the next four years if this change does not take place, and Labour and the Liberal Democrats remain in control of town halls across England.

'In many cases the figures are dramatic. They serve as a warning to residents across the country.

'The next set of elections for the London borough councils will take place in 2002.

'By then, the average band D council tax in Labour boroughs in London would be almost one thousand pounds. For example:

- if Labour are still in control of Ealing, residents could be facing a band D Tax of 879 - an increase of 37 per cent;

- the council tax in Labour Croydon would be 908 at band D if current trends continue - an increase of 31 per cent

- if the Liberal Democrats retain control of Kingston Upon Thames, the council tax there could be 922 by 2002

- the Lab-Lib pact in Barnet could be setting a band D Tax of 931 by 2002 if they are still in control

- the Lab-Lib pact in Brent could be costing residents 932 at band D - a massive increase of 58 per cent

- Islington's tax could have reached 1,285 for a band D property

'But the story is not the same throughout London. If current trends continue, the council tax in Conservative Wandsworth would have fallen to 300 at band D by the year 2002.

'Outside London, the picture is the same. If there is no change then, on current trends:

- Labour Trafford would be costing people 801 in band D tax - an increase of 22 per cent;

- Lab-Lib Solihull would be costing people 908 at band D;

- Bradford would be costing people more than 1,000 at band D;

- Birmingham would be costing band D households a massive 1,132; and

- the band D council tax in Liverpool would have reached 1,584.

'In the unitary authorities:

- residents in Liberal Democrat Isle of Wight would be paying 959 at band D, an increase of 32 per cent;

- those in Kingston Upon Hull would be paying 993;

- in Hartlepool the figure would be 1,120;

- in Bristol the council tax would have risen to 1,246 at band D.

'These high council taxes are not inevitable. They would be a direct result of Labour and Liberal Democrat mismanagement. Next week voters across the country have the opportunity to vote for change, and to tell Labour and the Liberal Democrats that enough is enough.'

Commenting on the threat of a new business tax, Sir Norman said:

'The government's Consultation Paper on Business Rates, published last month, suggests that local authorities should have the discretion to levy a 'supplementary local rate' on top of the uniform business rate.

'Such a levy would be deeply unpopular with many businesses. It could see a return to the days when businesses and jobs were driven out of many of our cities as a direct result of the policies of the Labour councils in control there.

'The fact that the levy might be linked to council tax levels will hardly reassure those in Labour areas facing sky-high council taxes.

'The threat of this new business tax makes it even more important that efficient Conservative councils are elected on May 7 - councils which will keep taxes down.

'Across London, this will be the last opportunity before 2002 to prevent Labour and the Liberal Democrats charging higher and higher taxes on residents and businesses alike, year by year by year. It's the last opportunity to make it clear that 'it's time for a change in local government'.'

- Projected Council Tax Rises 1998-2002 for Greater London, metropolitan authorities and a number of unitary authorities are available on request from LGCnet. Tel 0171 833 7324/5.

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