People living in Sefton will see a bigger Council Tax bill hitting their doormats next month.

At its Budget meeting this evening, the council voted through a 4.99% council tax hike.

Sefton Council says it has “navigated its way through 11 years of reduced funding” from central government.

Deputy Council Leader, Cllr John Fairclough, told the meeting: “This past year has been the most difficult we as a council have had to face.

“Our Sefton residents have lost loved ones, livelihoods, crucial time in education, precious time spent with our nearest and dearest.

“We were told by Tory ministers we would be repaid for the money we spent as a result of the pandemic. What were the Prime Minister’s words? ‘Whatever it takes’.”

“We were promised austerity was over. Billions of pounds wasted on private contracts with Tory donors. Continuing to allow large companies get away with paying virtually no tax while our high street businesses go to ruin.”

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“This government promised to fix our broken social care system. What they haven’t said is that they expect councils to raise council tax to finance this. The government have already factored the increase into our funding settlement for this year.”

“If we don’t increase our council tax, our vulnerable won’t get the care they are entitled to.”

“Imagine what we could have done with the £555m taken away from our budget. The Tory government, they promise, promise, promise… and never deliver.”

Some opposition members questioned Sefton Council’s decision to purchase Bootle Strand.

Kate covers local government and politics for the ECHO, focusing on Sefton Council.

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Conservative Leader Cllr Tony Brough said: “I’m no accountant but I can’t help but notice Bootle Strand’s predicted loss of £1.5m.

“The pandemic couldn’t have been predicted, but we were well aware of our seismic shift to online shopping.”

Lib Dem councillor Simon Shaw added: “It’s actually more like a loss of £4.4m if you take into account figures for the 24 months up to the end of the financial year 21/22.”

Cllr Shaw also said if the council had an additional £4.4m, it would mean council tax would only have to rise by around 2%, rather than the full 4.99%.

Labour councillor Marion Atkinson suggested people were disingenuously referring to the Strand’s “loss” while calling financial expenses in other parts of the borough “subsidies”.

Cllr Atkinson said: “You say this is a loss. What about the other losses, subsidies, whatever you want to call them.

“Southport Theatre has lost £1.5m, marketing for Southport has cost us £1.2m, the market £1.4m, Southport Pier £1m.

“These subsidies were absolutely the right thing to do to plough ahead with the regeneration of our borough and to save local businesses.

“£25m was spent on the Atkinson [in Southport]. That’s one building, not an entire shopping centre.”

Cllr Trish Hardy added: “In this recession environment, in areas like Bootle, that haven’t got money from the government, it a good thing we have local ownership of the Strand.

“We have a 30 year business plan and I have no doubt the Strand will come back into profit. ”

Sefton Council estimates a further funding shortfall of almost £30m over the next three years.

The council tax increase will mean people from Bootle to Southport living in a Band C property having to hand over an extra £86.25 a year to the authority.