Calls to freeze council tax and invest more in tackling climate change were overthrown as the Vale of White Horse District council voted to increase council tax by £5.

Band D households will see council tax rise by £5, with investment in climate change grants and improvements to leisure facilities, which many Abingdon councillors support.

The reduction in government funding and with Covid-19 both reducing income and increasing costs means the council is more reliant on council tax and other income to help support its services.

Ahead of the district councils budget meeting on Wednesday February 16, Conservative councillors proposed a set of amendments to the 2022/23 budget.

The amendment suggested the proposals, which include a £75,000 increase to the community climate initiatives, would be funded by deferring the increase in councillors’ basic allowances, and the small in year surplus currently retained by the district council.

The Conservatives said this proposal would see the community climate initiatives fund increase to £125,000 for the year 2022/23 and would allow community groups to kick start vital local initiatives to help tackle climate change.

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The amendment also included proposals to freeze council tax at the rate of £141.69, to ensure residents keep more money in their pockets.

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£525,000 is set to be spent on environmental projects including a five-year programme of climate change grants and for tree planting across the Vale.

Louise Brown, who lives near Steventon spoke at the council meeting as a local resident and voiced her view that more money should be made available to tackle climate change.

She said: "The existing budget will mean only £800 per parish and no support for any groups. I do not think it is enough and we need as many resources as possible to tackle the climate crisis."

She called for money to be made available to local businesses she cares about, such as the Hanney Community Shop and the Farmhouse Bakery and Cafe in Steventon.

Mrs Brown also pleaded with the council to not raise council tax at a time when "the cost of living is squeezing residents' budgets".

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However, the opposition's amendment was voted against and Neil Fawcett, district councillor for south Abingdon, said it would be "ridiculous" for the council to support the amendment.

Mr Fawcett feels the £5 increase in council tax does not compare to the rise of the energy price cap.

He said: "It is a small amount compared to the massive problems our residents have on their plates because of the actions of our government."

The Abingdon councillor also added that more money than was suggested in the opposition's amendment is going towards climate change, with funding towards refurbishing the White Horse Leisure Centre in Abingdon to make its heating system greener.

The 2022/23 budget was approved with 23 votes for and seven against.

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