Councillors approve 2.98% Boston council tax rise

Boston Borough Council has voted to increase its share of council tax by 2.98% while at the same time making savings of £900,000.

The Full Council approved the authority’s budget for 2018-19 at a meeting in Boston on Monday, February 26.

Councillors voted by a margin of 21 to four, with one abstention to support the budget.

The budget had been given the green light by the council’s Cabinet last week, with portfolio holder for finance Councillor Aaron Spencer revealing that the authority has had a reduction in government funding of £400,000 for 2019.

Band D properties will pay an extra £5.31, with their council tax rising from £178.29 to £183.60.

An extra £400,000 coming from the retention of business rates will be used to promote economic growth in the town.

Councillor Spencer reiterated the need for Lincolnshire districts to receive a fairer funding deal from central government.

He previously said that if the council got just 2% from Surrey it would be solvent for the next 20 years, and criticised the amount of money the council had to hand over to drainage boards.

He said: “This council tax increase will enable us to deliver a balanced budget.

“If we didn’t increase council tax and internal drainage boards increased their levies, our budget would suffer and any increases would be wiped out.

“We do a great deal with not a lot of money. We are lobbying central government for fairer funding. We are missing out on millions.”

Councillor Jonathan Noble, a Conservative, said he would be abstain in the vote.

He said: “I do have grave concerns for council taxpayers in the borough. We’ve had an increase in our council tax income of £517,000 in two years.

“If we want to attract investment into this town and people into work, one of the ways we can do this is by keeping tax as low as possible. We as a party believe in low tax and small government.

“Boston Borough Council does not need to increase the precept this year.”

Labour Councillor Paul Gleeson  said he had to support the budget, adding that he felt central government was trying to “destroy” local government with reductions in funding.

Speaking across the chamber to his Conservative colleagues, he said: “I call on the party opposite to speak with government to try and reverse this.”

Councillor Gleeson’s support for the budget was echoed by Councillor Alison Austin, an Independent and Conservative councillors Tom Ashton and Stephen Woodliffe, the latter saying that the authority was doing the best it could in difficult circumstances.