Horsham District Council’s annual budget and a council tax rise was agreed after a unanimous vote yesterday (Wednesday, February 21).
The Conservatives’ spending plans for the year ahead include an increase in the council’s portion of council tax equivalent of £5 more for the average, Band D, property.
Liberal Democrat leader Dr David Skipp (Horsham Park) reserved praise for the council’s plans to spend funds secured from developers on building affordable housing.
He said: “Young people are paying higher rents for their accommodation and house prices have risen by 152 per cent in the last 20 years.
“When you are talking about middle class millennials being priced out of the housing market 20 years ago families with net incomes of £17,000 to £24,000 were classed as having middle incomes. That figure has risen to £22,000 to £30,000.”
Dr Skipp congratulated the cabinet and council on acquisition of properties which would be used for those struggling to find accommodation.
But he also noted spending plans for a new leisure centre at Broadbridge Heath and around £8million on the new Piries Place car park and questioned whether more could be spent on affordable housing.
“I just wonder whether we have our priorities right,” he said.
Cabinet member for planning and development Clare Vickers (Con, Southwater) said the council had a ‘continued commitment’ to securing on-site affordable housing for new developments where possible.
She confirmed HDC’s intention to boost supply of lower-cost homes.
The budget was approved by all 35 councillors present.
They then went on to approve the council tax increase by the same margin.
Councillor Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham), cabinet member for finance and assets, said: “We still on Horsham District Council remain the lowest council tax in West Sussex and nationwide we are in the bottom ten per cent which I think is quite a good thing.”