THE BOROUGH authority has frozen its part of the council tax, despite claims of electioneering from opposition councillors.

At a full council meeting yesterday (February 25), attended by 25 out of the 48 members, the freeze in the household levy was approved, which will generate an income of £8,868,722 for the council.

A Band D property in the borough will continue to pay £141.41 per month.

But the move did not come without criticism from Liberal Democrats who claimed that the ruling Conservative party timed the freeze due to the election in May.

Councillor Alan Dowden said: “We served a nil increase last year which was voted down by the administration and of course we have been proven correct.

“We get a nil increase just before an election and the other one when we don’t have an election the only reason was because the government gave an incentive grant and you would have lost that if you didn’t.”

Councillor Peter Hurst added: “We have always said we should be setting council tax to what we require for the year in question not what we are allowed to do.

“Every four years we don’t raise it by the maximum, we find a way of freezing it.”

And Councillor Mark Cooper said: “We are not just here to save money but spend it on behalf of residents.

“It is rather cynical that they [the freeze] seem to occur in election years.”

However, this was denied by the Tories who stated that it was due to a “positive performance” by the council’s Project Enterprise (PE) initiative, which the authority set up in 2014 to increase income from investments and reduce reliance on government funding.

The council has said that it has invested in a number of properties through PE which is expected to have generated additional revenue income of more than £2 million in 2019/20.

Delivering his last budget before retirement, finance portfolio holder, Councillor Peter Giddings said that he was pleased to recommend a balanced budget.

Cllr Giddings added: “A budget that enables us to grow our potential, continues to invest in Test Valley and prepares us well for the major changes and challenges that lie ahead.

“I genuinely believe that our consistent and prudent approach to managing the council’s finances has enabled us to avoid any cuts to valuable services. I hope this budget paves the way for a fairer, more self-sufficient and resilient future that can help Test Valley thrive.”

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Councillor Phil North, said: “Our sound financial management means that our tax remains one of the lowest in the country, £43 lower than the average in the rest of England in 2018/19.

“Our priorities remain to continue to rejuvenate our town centres and to continue to invest time and resources into preventing and relieving homelessness.

“With improvements to Romsey Rapids and the brand new Andover Leisure Centre, I hope residents will continue to see the benefits of our sound financial planning.”