Wales

Pembrokeshire council tax to go up by nearly 10%

Tenby Harbour, Pembrokeshire - photo by Susan Powell Image copyright Susan Powell
Image caption Spending to promote tourism to Pembrokeshire resorts such as Tenby could be cut

Council tax in Pembrokeshire will go up by nearly 10% in April, despite calls from some councillors for more cuts.

The independent-run authority is looking to make savings across the board to plug a £20m budget shortfall.

The 9.92% increase will add nearly £100 a year to a Band D council tax bill, taking it to £1,093 a year, plus police and community council charges.

It is still likely to be the lowest council tax in Wales, as most other Welsh councils already charge more.

The neighbouring counties of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion currently charge £1,197 and £1,226 respectively.

Pembrokeshire's £221m budget for 2019-20 was backed by a meeting of the full council in Haverfordwest earlier, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Bob Kilmister, the cabinet member responsible for finance, said work on a service prioritisation plan would start as soon as next week.

He said projects totalling £600,000 would be spent on school improvements, but customer contact centres could be scrapped in favour of a different way of providing the services.

Phil Kidney, an independent councillor for Manorbier, said this risked "disenfranchising" many residents.

Former council leader Jamie Adams said the authority could make more savings through a review of its buildings, rather than "simply asking the taxpayer for more money".

John Davies, another former leader, said the current administration had increased taxes more in two years than the previous leadership did in a decade.

Services such as tourism marketing and public toilet provision have also come under the spotlight in recent months, as council leaders have consulted the public on budget options.

Welsh Government cash funding for Pembrokeshire - covering about three-quarters of council spending - is going up by 0.2%, well below the rate of inflation.

However, the Welsh Government said it had offered councils "the best settlement possible in this ninth year of austerity".

Yesterday, councillors in neighbouring Carmarthenshire agreed a budget with a council tax increase of 4.89%, adding £58 to the annual bill for a Band D property.

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