City a leader on council tax but 'Government does not want to know'
COUNCIL tax in Derby for 2013-14 has been confirmed as the lowest in Derbyshire and one of the lowest in the East Midlands – but the city's Labour leadership says this is not being recognised by Whitehall.
Derby Band D council taxpayers will face an overall bill of £1,378.75, including the city council charge of £1,144.63, which has risen by 1.55%. The remainder is made up of charges from Derbyshire's police and fire authorities.
The figures have been revealed as the city council prepares to hear whether it has won an award for being the best local authority in the country at a ceremony on Wednesday.
Council leader Paul Bayliss said the city's low council tax and the fact it is in the running for the award both lent weight to the authority's Fair Deal for Derby campaign, calling for a better funding deal for the city.
Campaigners point to statistics which say the amount lost in the council's budget since 2010 equates to £75 per head in Derby, compared to the national average of £62 for similar-sized councils.
A council delegation was due to meet with Brandon Lewis MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for London, Local Government and Planning, on the subject on Monday, March 18, but Mr Lewis cancelled and this will now take place a week later.
Mr Bayliss said: "Derby has consistently had among the lowest council tax amounts in the East Midlands and it's always been the lowest in the county.
"But the Government doesn't seem to want to recognise or reward the fact that we are setting low council tax in its settlement."
Derby is up against six other councils on the shortlist for the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2013, which recognise excellence in local authorities in the 12 months before March.
In their summary of what the authority has achieved in that time, judges said it had, despite tough economic times, focused on "regenerating the city, improving the lives of residents and investing in employees".
They added: "The council's innovative regeneration fund as well as its ambitious leisure and accommodation strategies are part of a £260 million capital programme investing in the city's infrastructure and supporting local jobs."
Mr Bayliss said he was hopeful the council would win. He said: "The council is very efficient, it's very well run, it has low council tax and it delivers change. We do what we do well."
Tory opposition leader Councillor Philip Hickson, previously said that the 1.55% rise in the authority's council tax could have been avoided if there was a "political will to do so".