RESIDENTS in Richmondshire face a rise in council tax bills this year after councillors voted in favour of a three per cent increase.

Almost immediately council tax protesters voiced their displeasure and announced a petition calling for an about-turn.

District council members had been split over whether to accept a Government grant in payment for a council tax freeze or to put up average band D bills by 11p per week.

But David Simpson, of the strategic management team, said the offer from the Government was "not a good deal", because it was a one-off and they would have to make up the deficit in next year's budget.

Council leader John Blackie agreed and told a meeting of the strategy board that he felt that adding 11 pence a week to bills would be preferable to making more savings from public services.

Conservative councillor Melva Steckles was completely against the increase and said: "This Government is trying to drive down the base rate of the budget.

"I think the risk here is the Government will persist in pushing for a lower base rate, and if we do not take the grant they will reduce future grants even more."

Richmondshire’s decision came as North Yorkshire County Council went the other way and voted to freeze their element of the council tax bill.

Leader John Weighell said the freeze would be the equivalent of a band D household saving £26 a year.

He added: "There is a vast number of people in this county such as elderly people on fixed incomes, people in business and retail and those struggling to fill up their cars with petrol and pay gas and electricity bills, for whom £26 is a significant sum."

Richmondshire’s decision attracted an immediate response from the Taxpayers’ Alliance pressure group, which is committed to fighting for lower taxation.

Spokesman Andrew Allison said they would be launching a petition calling for the district authority to accept the Government grant and freeze their tax.

The Alliance will be out drumming up support for their petition by Richmond’s Market Cross from 11am on Saturday.