Knaresborough residents to face council tax increase

Knaresborough House.
Knaresborough House.

Knaresborough residents will face another increase to their council tax after the town council voted to raise the precept by more than 20 per cent.

Of 14 councillors 10 voted in favour of the increase at the Knaresborough Town Council budget meeting on Tuesday February 2.

This will be the first time the precept has been raised in more than four years and will see the budget increased by £22,448 - a 23 per cent increase on previous years.

Councillor Bill Rigby (Grn) voted in favour of the increase which is said to provide the town with more financial support as the nation faces central government cuts.

He said: “My reason for the supporting it was totally pragmatic, there were serious challenges for the town council to be faced over the next year and we had to make the best decision to meet as many of those as possible.”

Coun Rigby highlighted that with inflation over the last four years, KTC could not continue its work without increasing the precept to some degree.

Mayor of Knaresborough and Chair of the town council, Andrew Willoughby (Lib) agreed, but voted against the increase, claiming it wasn't enough.

He said: "I felt that the increase in the budget was too small. The increase that was passed is only sufficient to make up for the fact we have had four years with no increase at all.

"The total precept that every house pays to Knaresborough is very small and the increase is only around 20 per cent which only works out as seven pence per week per household.

"I felt that people can afford more than seven pence per week and it would enable the town council to be more adventurous and spend more on useful projects for Knaresborough."

Another Liberal Town Councillor, James Monaghan, also voted against the increase but for a very different reason.

He said: “I spoke to many residents who were worried about an increase in their council tax bill. A lot of people still find it hard to get by, and the combined effect of council tax increases from the police, fire service and local councils all add up.

“I am concerned that too few Knaresborough residents are aware of what the town council does and will struggle to see why this extra money is necessary. I am not against an increase in future, but I would have liked to see this years budget held at the same level."

Despite the council claiming the budget would allow KTC to continue the provision of a number of town services, Coun Monaghan argued residents should be consulted on how they would like to see their money used.

He said: "Before raising the budget the council should consult with residents to find out how they would like to see their money spent to improve Knaresborough and whether they would be happy to contribute more in tax to make this happen."