CIVIC leaders in Hartlepool have hit back at claims the borough council has one of the highest council tax rates in the country.

Council tax in Hartlepool is often reported as one of the very highest in the country because people living in Band D properties pay £1,695 a year, far higher than most authorities charge (in 2014 it was ranked third highest in the country for Band D properties).

However Hartlepool is unusual in that the vast majority of houses in the town are in lower housing bands. Nearly 87 per cent of dwellings in Hartlepool are A, B and C and only seven per cent are Band D compared to an average of nearly 16 per cent across the UK.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Council, said: “It is very confusing to people and misleading to make council tax comparisons at Band D because the vast majority of Hartlepool residents are in the lower bands.

“It is much fairer and more accurate to compare what people actually pay and when you do this Hartlepool is the 55th lowest out of 326 councils in the country; the highest being Elmbridge in Surrey and the lowest the London Borough of Wandsworth.”