Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton council tax rise of 2.99% approved

Itchen Bridge
Image caption Tolls to cross the Itchen Bridge will rise by 20p for motorists

Council tax will rise by 2.99% in Southampton after city councillors approved the latest budget.

The increase, which equates to £41.30 a year for Band D homes, comes as the authority looks to save £15m by 2021.

Glen Lee care home in Bitterne will be shut to save £1m a year, while the Itchen Bridge toll will go up by 20p to raise an extra £510,000 per year.

The Labour-run council's leader Christopher Hammond said the decisions had not been taken lightly.

"Despite the Prime Minister claiming austerity is over, it seems this is not true, and is actually getting worse," he told a full council meeting on Wednesday.

"It is scandalous how central government are robbing metropolitan authorities, like Southampton, and distributing this to leafy shire councils.

"We're putting up council tax as nearly every other council is doing across the country."

Image caption Holcroft House care home was given a reprieve from planned cuts following protests

Plans to shut the city's last two council-run care homes had previously been met with protests, with Holcroft House in Thornhill later granted a reprieve from the proposed cuts.

However, the council said the age and condition of Glen Lee and its lower occupancy rates meant keeping it open was not viable, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The toll on the Itchen Bridge, which links Woolston to Southampton city centre, is currently 50p, rising to 60p during peak times for cars, small vans and 4x4s.

These charges will be raised to 70p and 80p respectively.

Mr Hammond said the extra money would go towards maintaining and upgrading the bridge, with the introduction of contactless payments expected "soon".

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