Councillors unanimously agreed to freeze the precept levied on their parishioners for the 2014-15 council tax bill.
The ‘standstill’ precept was agreed at a meeting of Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council on Monday night. It follows the past financial year’s record rise, which saw the precept on average Band D properties increase from £13.20 to £20 a year – a hike of nearly 52 per cent.
Councillors pointed out at the time they had previously used their reserves to minimise precept rises, but would now have to pay for the cost of their own elections and were also preparing to take over the management of more public services.
The precept rise was sharply criticised by Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, who said it had been made without a basis of firm spending intentions. He argued residents were being “taxed for ideas” rather than paying for actual services.
But on Monday, parish council chairman, Councillor John Huxley, paid tribute to Coun Peter Hill for his work in putting together the 2014-15 budget proposal, which recommended keeping the Band D precept at £20. This will enable the council to raise a net total of £42,201.
Coun Huxley said: “Our finance and overview committee, led by its chairman Coun Peter Hill, have worked very hard to produce a prudent and cost-effective budget – I believe it represents great value for money.
“This is a standstill precept, and we’ve done well to get this under the circumstances as we’re involved in several very important projects. We need money to do things, we can’t exist on nothing.
“We have to have a contingency against elections because a by-election in this council would cost about £8,000 a ward. I commend this budget and propose we accept it.”
After the budget decision, Coun Huxley reminded his colleagues the village was facing multiple threats to local services, including Haworth Fire Station, the Tree Tops Children’s Centre, Haworth Post Office and Haworth Central Park toilets.
He added Haworth parish is in danger of losing vital infrastructure at a time when it is being expected to take another 500 homes as part of Bradford district’s long-term house building target.