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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 09:06 GMT
Councillor resigns over tax rise
Councillor Anthony Baker
Councillor Baker has served on Shepway Council for nine years
A councillor has resigned from his party at plans to impose what could be the highest council tax rise in England.

Shepway District Council in Kent, which is run by the Liberal Democrats, has proposed a 39.6% rise.

Liberal Democrat Anthony Baker has quit, saying the increase should have been restricted to single figures.

Councillor Baker believes the rise should have been minimised - even if it led to cuts in services.

He told BBC Radio Kent that the figure of 39.6% was "totally unacceptable" to the average council tax payer in Shepway.

People in Shepway are absolutely hopping mad
Councillor Anthony Baker
He said the council should have put forward an alternative option instead and given residents a chance to vote by telephone for their preferred choice.

"They should have, at the same time, introduced a budget in outline of at least 5% so that people could have seen to what extent their level of services would have been reduced and to what extent some of the plans may not have happened in the future," Mr Baker said.

"At the present moment, people in Shepway are absolutely hopping mad because they know that by putting up their council tax their services are not going to improve by 40%."

"They won't probably see any improvement at all," he said.

He said although he had severed his links with the Liberal Democrat party and cut up his membership card, he would still remain on the council as an independent councillor.

Mr Baker, who has served on Shepway Council for nine years, said he had no doubt that he would retain his seat in the next election standing as an independent.




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