ROMSEY’s mayor has slammed the Tory-controlled Test Valley Borough Council’s plans to impose a 4.1 per cent council tax increase on borough residents.

Mark Cooper, who is a borough Lib Dem councillor, said the proposal was “completely out of step with other councils” and his party colleagues were not happy about it.

Mr Cooper added that Hampshire County Council and Romsey Town Council are not increasing their council tax levies.

He also stressed that Liberal Democrat controlled Valley Park Parish Council is reducing its tax level by six per cent.

Mr Cooper, who warned that if the 4.1 per cent increase is agreed at Test Valley’s full council meeting today, the authority will lose a £60,000 grant from the Government.

However, borough cabinet spokesman for economics Peter Giddings said the £60,000 from the Government’s Communities secretary Eric Pickles, was only “an incentive aimed at getting local authorities to freeze council tax and the cash is only for a two year period.

“Our £5 a year increase will bring in an extra £250,000 and it will be permanent. Test Valley’s Band-D charge of the council tax bill is less than one per cent of total bill ( average £1,400 a year Band-D charge,” said Mr Giddings.

Mr Cooper’s view is that the borough should dip into its cash reserves and use that instead of inflicting more hardship on Test Valley residents.

“The Borough has £10,673,000 in earmarked reserves and an additional £64,000,000 in investments.

“It is absolutely inexcusable to charge every Band-D council tax payer an extra 4.1 per cent. Liberal Democrat Councillors will be urging TVBC to step in line with Hampshire and Romsey and go for a zero increase.”