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Plea for calm at tax hike meeting
A PLEA for calm has been issued ahead of a public meeting to discuss Portland’s huge council tax precept hike.
A large crowd is expected at the meeting on Monday which has been called so councillors can explain the thinking behind a decision to increase the island precept, which will rise by almost 1,000 per cent for a Band D property.
It will help the town council to become more independent financially and have more money to spend on the island.
Such is the growing anger at the decision that police have been informed of the meeting at All Saints Church, Easton, which starts at 7pm.
Mayor Les Ames said apart from the poll tax demonstrations of 1990 he had not known such feelings about an issue of local concern in his 40 years in local government.
He said: “I would like this to be a careful and thoughtful meeting.
“Feelings are running high and I have had a constant stream of calls about it. There are also a lot of rumours flying around which are incorrect.
“People who want to speak at the meeting should think before they do so and carefully word what they want to say.
“However people feel I want them to approach this sensibly and with thought.”
Coun Ames said he hoped the ‘sacred’ meeting venue would have a calming influence on the discussion.
The meeting will be chaired by a retired court judge, John Ungley.
Coun Ames added: “Personally I hope the council will take another look at the decision on the precept.
“If they do then we can take strength and guidance from the results of the meeting on Monday.”
He said he asked the town clerk to inform Dorset Police of the meeting as a precaution.
Dorset Police said it had ‘no issue’ with the meeting and that officers wouldn’t be attending but would be on patrol as normal.
Portland Town Council will rake in £500,000 from the precept to spend on improving services and funding community projects.
Town councillors have been told a rule governing council business may have been breached at a meeting in December when the budget proposal was discussed.
It has been suggested to councillors the budget process is started again at a meeting of the council of February 5.
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