A COUNCIL has come under fire for increasing tax by 75 per cent – then holding a workshop to help residents cope with rising costs.

Colburn Town Council, near Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, has demanded £70,000 from residents for 2012-13.

The increase of £30,000 on last year will mean the town council’s share of a Band D household’s tax bill rises from £31.71 to £55.83.

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The increase was last night described as extraordinary by local community leader Melva Steckles, who has launched a petition calling on the authority to explain the increase.

She said: “The people I have spoken to about it are absolutely aghast. It’s an extraordinary decision in these times of hardship.”

Residents attending the Ease the Squeeze event at Colburn village hall on Monday received advice on a range of issues, including debt, benefits, reducing food waste and saving energy. Mrs Steckles said: “The same people who organised the event voted to put the council tax up by 70 per cent – it’s bizarre.”

Colburn mayor Bev Partridge said the authority had decided to increase its precept after discussing ways of improving the community, with one proposal to employ a community warden to pick up litter and maintain play parks.

She said: “With all the development planned for Catterick Garrison, we did not want to be left behind.

“There was a decision at the meeting that the precept should go up to help with that.”

The £30,000 increase will pay for a community warden, grass cutting and open space maintenance.

However, the final decision on whether to employ a warden will not be taken until next month’s council meeting.

In a further complication, the mayor said yesterday she did not back the plan to employ a community warden, and said: “This is something already done by the district council – why do you need to reinvent the wheel?”

Coun Steckles said: “It seems they are raising £30,000 without an agreed way of spending the money.”

The Ease the Squeeze event was organised by town and district councillor Angela Dale.

She said the event had been successful, and said: “Over 100 people came and not one of them mentioned council tax to me.

“The rise in council tax was a collective decision taken by the whole of the town council. I think this is just political mischief making.

“If there is a petition, there is a petition and we will deal with it.

The increase was done for the right reasons.”