Residents told by the council: dig deep for a front row seat

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HOUSEHOLDERS in Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd will have to pay £73 on average for town council services in 2012/13 – up nearly 25 per cent.

Most of the extra £14 per property will be used to help repair and improve Hebden Bridge Picture House, now run by Hebden Royd Town Council.

The huge tax hike comes at a time when many councils are imposing austerity measures.

One town councillor who voted against the hike described it as “gobsmacking”.

“We should be trying to support householders in these tough times and seeking other ways to fund the cinema,” said Coun Christine Bampton-Smith, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group.

But Labour leader Coun Dave Young said the measure was “responsible and prudent”.

“It will cost the average Band A householder in Hebden Royd around £10 a year extra and it reflects our election pledge to do as much as we can to redress the years of cuts and stand-still budgets imposed by the Lib-Dems.”

Councillor Young said that the £81,000 allocated for the cinema was a “one off” which will reap huge dividends in the years to come.

The council will spend £251,000 this year including £96,000 on salaries and there will be an extra £10,000 to help more groups, particularly the elderly, young people and socially disadvantaged.

Money has been set aside for environmental projects, including new allotments at Sandy Gate and Banksfield.

Liberal Democrat councillors, who hold seven of the 11 seats on the town council, wanted it to borrow the money for the Picture House at preferential rates and pay it back over several years using income from ticket sales.

Town councillor Nader Fekri (Lib-Dem) said that would have added only £2,000 to £3,000 a year to the council’s running costs.

But Coun Young said it would also have saddled the town council with thousands of pounds worth of debt over a number of years.

“We see the bigger picture and we are not afraid to invest in the long-term interests of the people of Hebden Royd,” he said.

There are 4,658 properties in Hebden Royd which are eligible to pay council tax.

l The town council has refused to set aside any money in its budget to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee or events being held in connection with the Olympic Games.