Uttlesford Conservatives 3% council tax cut goes through as budget approved for financial year

Cllr Howard Rolfe, leader of Uttlesford District Council.

Cllr Howard Rolfe, leader of Uttlesford District Council. - Credit: Archant

Uttlesford Tories last night (Thursday) forced through a three per cent council tax cut – dismissing a rebate proposal by the Liberal Democrats which they branded a “gimmick”.

The Lib Dems had put forward a £4.25 rebate for council tax payers in contrast to the Conservatives’ three per cent tax cut, which leader Howard Rolfe said would be “tinkering” with the established system.

“It’s almost a gimmick - I just think it’s wrong,” he told the chamber at the full council meeting.

“When you put it [council tax] up you go through the system, when you put it down you go through the system,” he said, implying that the cash-back approach proposed by the Lib Dems was not in line with how taxation currently works.

Cllr Howard Rolfe’s suggestion before the meeting that the rebate, sent as a cheque, “would barely cover the cost of postage”, prompted a backlash from the Lib Dems and a depiction of the leader as Postman Pat on opposition leader Alan Dean’s blog, and was eluded to in the meeting.

“I was munching on my cornflakes when up pops a picture of me in a Postman Pat uniform,” said the leader, joking that he hoped to win votes from the 10-year-old demographic.

Cllr Dean spoke at length to propose an amendment to the budget, which included a £60,000 investment for recycling, an extra Highways Ranger, welcome packs and solar panels on council buildings – as well as the contested £4.25 rebate.

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The proposals – which were rejected by the Conservative-led council – were made, Cllr Dean said, on “principle of progressive taxation and fairness.”

All recommendations for Conservatives budget were passed, with a majority of 28 to five.