A REFERENDUM on whether to raise council tax to create a climate action fund has been given the green light by Warwick District Council.
The full council voted unanimously on asking residents whether to allow the authority to hike its portion of the council tax by 30 per cent for the pot aimed at fighting climate change.
Residents will vote on May 7 on whether to accept the rise which will be introduced this April – but if rejected at the referendum households would get the cash back.
The increase would mean residents in an average Band D property would face an increase of £1 per week. The funds which will be ring fenced would generate around £3million a year.
The move – a national first – forms part of a cross party Climate Action Now programme (CAN) with the aim of seeing the district council become carbon neutral by 2025 and the entire district carbon neutral by 2030.
Andrew Day, leader of the Conservative-controlled council leader, said the vote was an “incredible chance” for the district’s residents to become the first in the country to take decisive action against climate change at a local level.
“The time to do something about climate change isn’t in a few years’ time – it’s right now.
“We’ve declared a climate emergency, and we now need to take urgent action to help turn the tide against climate change by becoming carbon neutral.
“All parties have put aside their differences to come together to support this ambitious plan – climate change is more important than political disagreements.
“In order to achieve our goals, we need to raise council tax by the equivalent of £1 per week for a Band D household – less than half the price of a typical cup of coffee. This means we have to put the rise to the voters in a referendum.
“We can assure residents that this money will only be spent on the CAN programme, and the public will be able to check we’re doing our job correctly through regular updates in meetings and through our accounts.
“Not only that, the extra money will make it far more likely the council will secure external grants to help fund CAN projects.
“We urge Warwick district’s voters to take this incredible opportunity to actively combat climate change and vote yes on Thursday, May 7.
“Warwick district could be the pioneers in battling climate change should voters say ‘yes’ – where we lead, many other councils will follow, and we’re confident the government will take notice.
“Many people say they’d like to do something about climate change, and this is a chance for Warwick district to prove it. It’s time for climate action now – Warwick District CAN.”
But the TaxPayers’ Alliance was immediately critical of the move.
Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager, said: “This is nothing more than yet another council tax hike, meaning bigger bills for already over-taxed residents.
“Despite politicians’ promises, taxpayers will likely be stuck with these rises permanently, meaning a £57 increase this year leading to the average household paying at least another £228 over the next four years.
“Instead of burdening local residents with yet more charges, councillors should focus on getting their own house in order, cutting down on bumper fat-cat salaries and the hundreds of thousands spent on this referendum alone.”