WHY should we pay more council tax when our tip could be closing but our town keeps growing?

That’s the question that Andy Tree asked Hampshire County Council on behalf of Bordon residents last week on a budget-setting day that continued a depressing trend.

The councillor for Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford spoke strongly against plans by HCC to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent shortly before the proposal was unsurprisingly ratified.

The independent called for council tax reforms and blamed “central government inaction” for harming local authorities around the country in a passionate speech last Thursday in Winchester.

He claims that “nothing has changed” since he joined the council two years ago, with the authority getting bogged down in a never-ending battle of cuts and difficult decisions.

“The theme at Hampshire County Council is still having to find savings and cuts, reduce services, and charge more council tax to residents,” said Cllr Tree in comparing the latest budget to his first as a county councillor.

“When my fellow residents in Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford think of Hampshire County Council, they used to think mainly about potholes,” said Cllr Andy Tree during the authority’s Budget D-Day meeting last week.

“Now the very real threat of the closure of Bordon Household Waste Recycling Centre had added a further negative perception.

“One perplexed resident recently asked me: ‘How can we be asked to pay for council tax if they are even contemplating closing our tip at a time when we are taking so much more housing and those in power said they were regenerating our town?’

“It doesn’t matter who is in power, the reality is, is that we can rarely have a debate between our political groups around choices, putting differing views across on what the money we do receive could and should be spent on.

“There is so very little room for any choices to be made and sadly democracy and choice has become a rather sad state of affairs.”

Cllr Tree and his fellow independent colleagues on HCC declined to put forward an alternative budget to the Tory-run authority as they feel “the whole thing has been stripped back so far”.

He did, however, give his support to the council’s Capital Programme and thanked officers for putting a budget together in a tough climate.

Hampshire County Council said the 4.99 per cent rise will generate an extra £39m.

The new rates, the maximum allowed without a referendum, will see a band D home pay £1,533.24 from April, a rise of £72.99 per year.