County council warns unitary status could prompt Exmouth council tax hike

PUBLISHED: 15:13 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:29 10 June 2010

EXMOUTH residents could face a tax hike if the town links up with the city to form their own unitary council.

EXMOUTH residents could face a tax hike if the town links up with the city to form their own unitary council.

Devon County Council claims people living in Exmouth and Exeter could end up paying an extra £29 a year if the move goes ahead to separate the two areas from the rest of Devon.

The county council has rubbished Exeter City Council's claims that city residents would see council tax rises if the boundary committee's proposal for a single unitary council for Devon goes ahead.

The county council believes council tax could fall across Devon if such a move was made.

But it warned Exmouth and Exeter were likely to see tax increases or cuts to services if the two were divided from Devon.

Illustrating the point, the county council refers to Exeter's newest PFI schools, which it has invested in significantly.

Spread across the whole of Devon, the cost per council tax payer is around £5 per year.

If Exmouth and Exeter were to break away from the rest of Devon, that burden would transfer to that unitary council - with council tax rising for residents to as much as £29 per council tax payer each year.

County council leader Brian Greenslade said: "How that is balanced would be down to that unitary council. But clearly that authority would need to either raise funds through council tax or consider cuts to local services.

"Our aim with a single unitary council is for council tax to reduce to the level of the lowest in Devon, and that the burden would reduce over time through the efficiencies that come from reducing nine authorities down to one."

"Exmouth and Exeter account for about 24 per cent of Devon's budget on local government services. Removing it [both areas] from Devon would therefore be bad for Exeter [and Exmouth] residents who could face higher council tax, but it would also be bad for the rest of Devon as almost a quarter of its budget for vital services would go.

"It would be a lose-lose situation, bad for Exmouth and Exeter and bad for the rest of Devon.

"There is still much to be done and we will continue to work hard with our partners and residents to develop the best outcome for all. We believe that we are far stronger together, but whatever your view, we urge people to get involved and join the debate.

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