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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 17:38 GMT
Councils ignore tax rise targets
Council tax form
Councils are at loggerheads with ministers over funding
The majority of Scotland's local authorities have defied a government warning to keep council tax increases down to 2.5%, the rate of inflation.

Four councils - East Renfrewshire, East Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire and Moray - agreed rises of 4.9% while others went above ministers' preferred ceiling.

In Dumfries and Galloway, the council's coalition administration resigned after its 6.9% rise was rejected.

Glasgow bucked the trend by setting a zero increase in its tax rate.

North Ayrshire Council and Falkirk Council decided their figures earlier this week, announcing a 4.65% and 4.6% rise respectively.

Council tax rises
Edinburgh 2.3%
Glasgow 0%
Aberdeen 2.9%
Highland 4.5%
Moray 4.9%

Dumfries and Galloway's ruling coalition of Independent, Lib Dem and SNP councillors saw its plans for Scotland's largest council tax rise defeated.

It set a 3% rise and will use more than 9m of council balances to make up the difference.

In Aberdeen a rise of 2.9% was agreed, which was well below the 5% increase that had been earlier expected.

The Lib Dem and Tory administration in the city said it was looking for "managed reductions" by losing 100 posts across the council in order to save an estimated 2.5m.

However, Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell said his authority had delivered a budget that increased spending on services without passing on the cost to the taxpayer.

Beyond Glasgow, some local authorities pinned down their increases.

The anticipated rises of 2.9% in Midlothian and 2.5% in East and West Lothian were confirmed while in Edinburgh, householders will see a rise of 2.3% in average bills.

McConnell intervention

Stirling Council's meeting to set the council tax rise figure was adjourned after Conservative members withdrew from the talks.

"This left the meeting inquorate and no budget or level of council tax was set," a spokeswoman said.

Dundee City Council deferred its decision until Monday.

During First Minister's Questions at Holyrood, Jack McConnell insisted councils should have been able to keep increases down.

However, Pat Watters, president of the councils' umbrella organisation Cosla, said too much emphasis had been placed on trying to limit rises and he warned services would suffer as a result.

Scottish National Party finance spokesman John Swinney said councils faced a difficult choice between tax rises above the rate of inflation or damaging cuts to frontline services.

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie called for a "reappraisal of the role, the function and the accountability of local government".


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See reaction to the increases



SEE ALSO:
Tax defeat leads to resignation
09 Feb 06 |  In Depth
Scotland's council tax bills
09 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Council tax rise challenge issued
08 Feb 06 |  Scotland


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