Council accused of 'levelling down' amid Yarmouth tax rise

The Town Hall in Great Yarmouth on January 17, 2022.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has approved its 2022/23 budget - Credit: Sonya Duncan

People in Great Yarmouth are set to see their council tax rise once more, after councillors voted in favour of increasing their authority’s share of the council tax bill by 2.92pc.

The rise equates to an extra £5 a year for a Band D property - the maximum allowed without a referendum - though lower banded properties will pay less.

The increase will mean band D properties pay £176.48 per year to the borough council.

Council tax is expected to generate £5,085,693 towards a total budget of £15,532,138 - but even with the rise, the authority is forecasting a £1.9million funding gap in 2022/23.

To balance the books , the council has had to draw from its reserves - which Conservative council leader Carl Smith described as “a one off” which would help deliver projects for "future savings". 

At a Tuesday meeting, the authority also agreed to increase several of its fees and charges - including in its car parks. 

Mr Smith said those increases would make parking charges consistent across the borough, and he pointed out that many had been frozen for some years. 

Councillor Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Great Yarmouth Borough Council's Conservative leader Carl Smith - Credit: Archant

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A proposed amendment from the Labour group asked that the charges remain as they are, but was defeated by the authority’s Conservative majority. 

Mr Smith said the council was continuing to provide “vital services” for residents and businesses within the borough - and said government investment, such as Yarmouth’s Town Deal, was also delivering for residents.

But Labour opposition leader Trevor Wainwright said: “Once again, Great Yarmouth is being levelled down, instead of levelled up, by this administration and central government.”

Councillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of the Labour group in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

The council's Labour opposition leader Trevor Wainwright - Credit: Archant

He pointed to the expected rise in national insurance in April, and said Yarmouth residents had experienced rising council tax rises in recent years with no noticeable improvement to services.

Conservative member Daniel Candon said the Labour group had provided “no suggestions on what they would do, or a different budget - so they offer their voters absolutely no alternative.”

Labour councillor Michael Jeal said he could not remember an occasion in the last three years when a Labour idea had been taken up by the Conservative administration - and that there would therefore have been “no point” in producing an alternative budget. 

Conservative member Paul Wells countered that the Labour group at County Hall had produced an alternative budget at their meeting on Monday.