THE region's rural authorities will today call on the Government to end injustice in the council tax system.

Sparse, a coalition of more than 50 of England's most rural local councils, says country dwellers are paying more money for fewer services.

The group includes North Yorkshire County Council and Richmond, Ryedale and Teesdale district councils.

Its manifesto appeals to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to recognise the extra costs of providing public services for remote communities.

People living in areas represented by the coalition pay up to three per cent more council tax than the average in England, even though council spending is about ten per cent less, says Sparse, the Sparsity Partnership for Authorities Delivering Rural Services.

Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire County Council's cabinet member for corporate affairs, said the authorities were calling for a fairer deal

"Urban areas have their problems, but so do we in less populated parts of the country," he said.

The manifesto also calls for more affordable housing and an end to right-to-buy in areas where there is pressure on social housing.

It highlights concerns that extra revenue raised through 90 per cent council tax on second homes is not being channelled into local community projects.

Key workers in Sparse areas should have access to training, development and affordable accommodation, it adds.

The coalition wants mobile services, such as libraries, police and banks, which provide a vital service to rural areas, to get fiscal relief.

Coun Ken Robinson, leader of Teesdale District Council, said: "The percentage of expenditure that we have to levy from council tax is very high.

"The average over the country is 25 per cent - we're at 43 per cent.

"And we're a very small district council and therefore don't get the benefits of economies of size."

Coun John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council, said: "What happens in rural areas such as Richmondshire is there aren't the people, the critical mass, to pay for services."

Sparse chief officer Graham Biggs said the local government funding formula for England failed to address the extra costs of providing services to rural communities.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said: "This year, every council received a grant increase in line with, or above inflation - in all, local government funding has risen by 33 per cent since 1997."