PLANS to ask council tax payers across Basingstoke and Deane for their views on proposals to increase the levy by two per cent from 2016 have been given the green light.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s decision-making Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the Council Plan 2016-2020, along with a proposed budget for the same period, to go to public consultation, at a meeting on Tuesday.

The plan sets out the vision for the borough over the next four years.

And in the face of reduced pots of money expected from the Government, the local authority has included a proposed two per cent increase in its share of council tax each year of the plan from the year 2016/17.

The increase would amount to an additional £2 per year for each Band D property across the borough.

The borough’s share of council tax has been frozen for the last five years.

In addition, the borough council is proposing to increase fees and charges by one per cent in 2016-17, 1.5 per cent in 2017-18 and two per cent in the following years.

The local authority is also hoping to find an additional £3.4m from efficiency savings and additional income between 2016 and 2020 and plans to use 25 per cent of the Government’s New Homes Bonus grant to support the revenue budget.

The local authority has created the new Council Plan two years ahead of schedule as it says it has been able to deliver most of the objectives in the Council Plan 2013 to 2017, including bringing John Lewis, Waitrose and Network Rail to the town.

The leader of the borough’s Labour group, Councillor Paul Harvey, slammed a proposal to only allocate five per cent of the Government’s New Homes Bonus grant to the borough’s Local Infrastructure Fund.

‘Raid on funds’ The fund aims to help deliver “larger ticket” facilities and infrastructure improvements for communities that have had large numbers of new homes.

Cllr Harvey said the proposal was a “raid on community funds from the wards that have taken the pain of development”, telling The Gazette: “It was not discussed at the environment (CEP) committee.

“This has been unveiled as part of this proposal so it is utterly disingenuous to say what they are saying.

“The Cabinet are effectively stealing money from communities to put into a bit pot of capital funding to fill the budget hole.

“They are taking it away from the communities who need it the most and who deserve the money to make a difference to their areas and that is what we want to see.

“What it means is rural wards will be able to bid for money from Popley and Brookvale when it should stay in Brookvale and Popley to make a difference.”

But Cabinet member for finance and resources, Cllr John Izett, defended the proposed budget, telling the meeting: “The paper continues to demonstrate we have resilient and sound finances as a borough which is going to be very important in order to achieve some of the improvements and investment the leader referred to that we are planning through the council plan.

“Clearly we are a low tax council and would prefer not to increase council taxes but we think given the uncertainties from the government, we need to continue to be prudent.”

The leader of the borough council, Cllr Clive Sanders, said it was important to move forward to laying the foundations to how the borough will develop over the next 50 years, adding: “A number of major projects are going to take place during that time.

“It really will be shaping the way people lead their lives in the area during that period.”

Cllr Sanders added the council was simply saying “it is a possibility that council tax could be anything from zero to two per cent” and the local authority was seeking the views of the public on where it would be most appropriate to sit between the two figures.

The public will have their say on the proposals between October 30 and December 14.