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Cumbria Council, a joint Conservative/Labour administration is proposing to increase the Council Tax by 2.5%.

Cllr Eddie Martin, the Council's Conservative leader said he  “was inclined to go with the 2.5% increase next year” but had not yet got the agreement of his group.

Their argument appears to be that otherwise they would want to have a sharp increase in Council Tax later – but that would require a referendum which they know they would lose.

Cllr Stewart Young, the Labour deputy leader of the county council, said:

“If we had a referendum, we all know what the outcome would be, people would vote ‘no’ to the increase.

“We were planning for a 2.5 per cent increase next year and 2.5 per cent the year after. If we took up the Government’s offer for a freeze in 2012 we couldn’t have a five per cent rise in 2013.”

Cllr Ian Stewart, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said:

“I wonder how many of the 39 Conservative county councillors are aware that their Government’s offer is being thrown back in its face.”

UPDATE

The Council leader Cllr Martin has sent me the following email:

Let me set the record straight.

We have NOT (repeat NOT ad infinitum…) rejected the government's offer.  These statements (by varous national bodies are entirely premature and moderately sensationalist). It only remains for the
Telegraph to contact me!

It is for discussion by the entire Group on Monday. I intend that we shall abide by the Conservative Group's decision and THAT decision is what we shall take to Council and it is on THAT decision that next year's budget will be established.  Sounds a bit like democracy to me…! We do NOT have autocratic dictators in Cumbria yet… despite my best endeavours!

Can I be any clearer?

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