March tax bills for people living in and around Leamington, Warwick and Kenilworth will include climate change fund charge

A ring-fenced fund to tackle the effects of climate change in Warwick District will be reflected on this month’s council tax bill – and residents will get to vote on whether to accept the increase.

Warwick District Council has come together to unanimously agree to put its ambitious Climate Action Now programme – CAN – to voters in a referendum on Thursday May 7.

Residents will be asked to agree to a rise in council tax equivalent to £1 per week for a Band D property to allow the district to fund the ambitious programme whilst maintaining the other council services.

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The far-reaching ten-year programme will focus on making homes and businesses more energy efficient, reducing the effects on air pollution in our towns from petrol and diesel vehicles, enhancing green spaces, and planting thousands of trees.

From L-R: Warwick district councillors Ian Davison (Green), Tony Heath (Whitnash Residents Association), Mini Mangat (Labour), council leader Andrew Day (Conservative) and Alan Boad (Liberal Democrat) launch the Warwick District Climate Action Now plan.

The decision was reported across the UK as a ground-breaking move, and many other authorities are understood to be closely watching the progress of the campaign before possibly following Warwick’s lead.

But, due to a legal quirk, council tax bills to be sent out on Wednesday March 11 to taxpayers in Warwick District will be reflecting the potential increase.

If, however, residents choose to vote ‘No’ to the CAN fund, their bills will then be reduced to make up the difference.

Cllr Alan Boad, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Warwick District, said: “Because of the legality surrounding local budgets, the potential increase in council tax from the CAN programme will appear on March’s bill.

“If residents vote ‘Yes’ in May’s referendum, that increase will stay on future bills. But if residents vote no, the difference in cost will then be refunded and new bills will be sent out reflecting the reduction.

“We think a referendum on a council tax rise is the fairest way to fund the CAN programme – we could have opted to reduce other key services to fund it including sports and leisure or waste collection, but instead we’ve decided to go to the people to see what they think.

“It’s very important to stress that this is a ring-fenced, protected fund that will actively contribute to a whole host of green projects in our district.

“This includes improving the energy efficiency of homes, working to develop a sustainable transport strategy, creating more green spaces, and helping businesses reduce energy costs.

“In the long term, this council tax increase will pay for itself due to the savings on energy and fuel costs that residents will make.

“We would urge people to support this plan on May 7 by voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum and take Climate Action Now.

“Our residents have a chance to make history by voting for this - it is their opportunity to make a difference to help tackle the Climate Emergency locally.”