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Cornwall councillors' proposed 6% council tax rise 'a mistake'

image captionAlex Folkes said he 'simply does not believe" people would want a referendum

A councillor in Cornwall has rejected calls to increase council tax because it would require a referendum that could cost £1m.

Cornwall Council is proposing savings of just under £24m in next year's budget.

Five cross-party councillors have submitted a motion to the full council proposing that instead of cuts, council tax should rise by 6%.

However, Lib Dem councillor Alex Folkes has said this would be a mistake.

'Unfair burden'

Council leaders are currently proposing a rise of 1.97% - about 43p a week extra for a Band D property.

Mr Folkes said Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has previously said that any rise above 2% would need to be approved in a referendum.

"I think putting up council tax by 6% would be a mistake," he said.

"I think that it is too much and it would put an unfair burden on too many people in Cornwall who simply can't afford to pay it.

image captionBob Egerton said a 6% rise was a middle-of-the-road messy compromise

"I just simply don't believe the people have the appetite for this. They wouldn't vote for it, it is a costly exercise, and it would cost about £1m just to hold the referendum."

The council has frozen tax increases for the past three years.

However, councillors Bob Egerton, Lisa Dolley, Tim Andrews, Stephanie McWilliam and David Hughes believe raising council tax by 6% would provide a "bit of a buffer to ease the pain" of cutbacks.

"The cabinet has a 'plan A' and what we're proposing is that we could look at this as a 'plan B'," Mr Egerton said.

"A 6% rise would cost people about £1.50 a week, but it would bring in an extra £9m, so even if we have to pay £1m for a referendum, we'd still have a bit of a buffer to help ease the pain of cutbacks that would will need to be made.

"A referendum would be expensive, but democracy costs money.

"It's not ideal, but many of us think it's better - a middle-of-the-road messy compromise."

The cross-party proposal will be discussed at the full council meeting on 22 October.

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