North Hertfordshire council tax is rising amid fears cashflow might never fully recover post-pandemic.

The Labour-Lib Dem coalition at North Herts Council agreed a balanced budget at a meeting on Thursday, February 23, and will raise council tax by the maximum amount possible – 2.99 per cent.

But Conservative councillors in opposition in the district have warned residents will feel the impact of rising costs.

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Labour Councillor Ian Albert, who is responsible for finance at the council, said the authority has “prided itself” on prudence and keeping costs low.

He warned without a tax rise, the council will lose funding which it would “never get back”.

Cllr Albert said: “We must consider the impact of any decision we make on our ability to set balanced budgets over the medium term, especially when government has not been able to settle on how it wants to fund local government for the future.

The Comet: Councillor Ian AlbertCouncillor Ian Albert (Image: North Herts Council)

“None of us will forget the last three years with the pandemic which hit the world – particularly anyone who lost a loved one, anyone seriously ill with Covid, and anyone who is suffering with Long Covid.

“Those impacts remain real.”

Cllr Albert added some contract prices have gone up as a result of rising inflation, and utility costs have gone up as a result of market conditions.

The authority has budgeted for a four per cent rise in pay for council staff, but the exact pay award was not agreed with trade unions before the council published its papers, so its impacts have not yet been fully calculated.

“Let’s be clear – we support the right of workers to negotiate and take strike action where necessary, as a last resort,” he said.

As a result of the new budget, North Herts Council has increased its share of the council tax bill by £7.32 on an “average” band D home – taking the amount which these homes pay to £252.45 in 2023/24.

Annual garden waste charges will jump from £40 to £49 from October 2023.

The council has also committed to extending the opening season at Letchworth Outdoor Pool by four weeks this summer – comprising two extra weeks in the spring, and two in the autumn.               


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Conservative Group Leader Cllr Claire Strong said the administration had promised to “scrap the tax” on garden waste collections, but had been unable to live up to the promise.

She said: “You have extended the outdoor swimming in Letchworth, but what about Hitchin?”

Cllr Strong added: “When we on this side were in control of the council, I don’t recall that we spent such a long time saying how difficult it was, and ‘let’s blame the government’ and all that sort of thing.

“We just got on with the job and set a fair budget.”

She said: “Yes, times have changed over the past three years.

“We do need to look at how we deliver services and we can make efficiencies.”