Leader fury at freeze on bills

Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne
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BLACKPOOL Council leader Simon Blackburn has lashed out at the Government after it banned a council tax hike this year.

But community leaders in Blackpool have welcomed the proposals to freeze bills for a second year running.

Chancellor George Osborne has announced around £800m will be doled out to help local authorities avoid an increase.

In Blackpool householders living in Band D properties, taken as the average, will continue to pay £1,516 a year for 2012/13.

It is estimated freezing the levy for a second year will save the average family £72.

But Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn warned there could be a cost as town halls struggle to provide services.

He said: “Yet again we have another example of central Government trying to take the credit for a council tax freeze which will be managed locally by councils.

“I suspect the freeze will also come at a cost to us here in Blackpool as I do not expect the “grant” we will be rewarded with, will go anywhere near meeting the costs of implementing a freeze.

“We’re in challenging times and the Government needs to recognise areas with as many health and employment issues as Blackpool need additional resources to get people back into work and able them to improve their lives.”

However, Ann Allen, chairman of Mereside Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, welcomed anything to cut bills.

She said: “Council tax has risen at an alarming rate.

“I live in a Band A property and in 2001 my council tax was £540, in 2010 it was £1,110 which is nearly double.

“A lot of people are struggling at the moment and are facing salary drops to keep a job so if they keep council tax down, it would be a help.”

Gwen King, chairman of Queens Park Residents’ Association, added: “It won’t affect people on benefits because they get it paid, but I’m sure people on low incomes would welcome this.

“My only concern would be that while freezing everything is OK, does it catch up with us in the future?”

Bispham resident Derek Bunting, a member of the Is It Fair? pressure group which campaigns against council tax rises said: “This is good news especially for pensioners and those on fixed incomes at the lower end. It might not sound like a lot but for someone on the borderline, £72 is a lot of money.”