OPPOSITION councillors fought the case for council tax not to be increased for a third year in an unsuccessful amendment at a full council meeting on Friday, 23 February.

Liberal Democrats pitched an alternative to the proposed £5 rise in the household levy, arguing Test Valley Borough Council’s (TVBC) good financial position would allow for a “gesture of support” for residents.

Leader of the TVBC Liberal Democrats Celia Dowden, who led the proposal, also reminded councillors Hampshire County Council tax will be increased by almost six per cent and the police precept will increase by seven per cent.

Cllr Alan Dowden said: “We could offer a freeze on our council tax and it would make no impact on our services whatsoever. But it would send a message to our residents that Test Valley cares in their time of need.

“It must not be overlooked that we are a debt free council from the sale of our council homes and that we hold large cash balances.”

Other supporters said the Conservatives are the “tax and hoard” party and the increase is not necessary to survive for next year.

Cabinet member Councillor David Drew said the council must “tax to invest” particularly due to the levels of uncertainty with Brexit and currency movements, and he wanted to see a continual of services being provided in the borough.

But finance portfolio holder Councillor Peter Giddings said: “In terms of long-term financial strategy it is necessary for us to maintain the tax at the level we propose.

“If we don’t put the £5 on we can’t recover that £250,000 and we would have less ability to get that money.

“It is also worth noting that our council tax has risen by just £28 in ten years.”

The amendment was opposed by 29 votes, while five councillors voted in favour and two abstained.

Council tax was later agreed in the meeting to rise by the proposed 3.67 per cent.