Climate change referendum for Warwick disctrict is cancelled along with council tax increase

A decision has been made to cancel the proposed climate levy on households’ council tax bills across the Warwick district.

Warwick District Council had planned to meet on Wednesday this week to consider a proposal to cancel the planned referendum to ask households to increase their council tax contribution to fund a Climate Action Fund.

But, given the rules on social distancing, councillors decided they should not meet.

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The council has already sent out bills including the levy, which works out at £1 per week for the average Band D home.

Councillors including leader Andrew Day (second from right) at the launch of the Warwick District Council Climate Action Now campaign.

The money raised would be put into a ring-fenced fund and used to bring forward projects to tackle climate change and improve the local environment.

The levy put the council tax rise over the limit set in law which meant it had to be approved by voters in a referendum.

That vote was originally planned to take place on May 7 when elections were also planned for the Police and Crime Commissioner.

But the coronavirus emergency led to those commissioner elections being delayed for 12 months.

In a joint statement the Chairman and Group Leaders of Warwick District Council said: “Had this meeting taken place, councillors would have voted on a recommendation to withdraw their proposal for excessive council tax in Warwick district, to create a ring-fenced fund to tackle climate change.

“However this meeting will not now be possible and neither will the referendum due to the current restrictions in place.

“As the referendum cannot take place, by law, the council will revert to the lower council tax increase of £5 a year for a Band D property.

“This lower increase was approved by council in February 2020 to cover the core council services but by law cannot take effect until after the date the referendum was scheduled.

“This means that your April and May instalments will be paid at the higher rate you have already been billed for, which equates to an over-payment of around £10.

“Any overpayment will be automatically incorporated into your next bill, and reduced on that basis.

“Councillors regret that this approach has to be taken, but they have to act lawfully and respect the challenges faced by the nation at the moment.

“Whilst dealing with coronavirus is the main priority, councillors are unanimous in their ambition to combat the effects of climate change and continue to support action that needs to be taken, as set out in their Action Programme.

“They will consider the financing required to tackle it in their 2020/21 budget review.”