COUNCIL chiefs have hit back at figures which suggest that Weymouth and Portland has the highest council tax in the country.

Information from the Department for Communities and Local Government comparing the average for a Band D mid range property by local authority area puts Weymouth and Portland at the top of the list with a bill of £1,726.04.

The figure includes Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s share plus precepts from other authorities including Dorset County Council, Dorset Police, and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service.

But as the figures are an average by local authority area, they do not indicate the Band D pricing for individual towns.

For example, while the average Band D bill for neighbouring West Dorset is £1,650, a breakdown of towns reveal people in Dorchester and Blandford are paying more than Weymouth and Portland residents as they also have a town council precept to pay.

Weymouth and Portland finance spokesman Colin Huckle challenged the way the government figures were presented, stating the borough’s council tax was not even the highest in Dorset.

He was also keen to point out that the borough council’s portion of the council tax was only a small part of the total bill, with the county council accounting for the majority of the bill and precepts from the police and fire services also included.

Cllr Huckle said: “The borough council keeps just 16 per cent of the council tax bill.

“The rest is made up of charges from Dorset County Council, Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, Dorset Police and for Portland residents, Portland Town Council.

“These authorities set their own charges so the borough council has no control over most of the bill.

“The other point I would make is that more than half of properties in Weymouth and Portland (54 per cent) are in band A or B, so most residents pay substantially less than the higher band D charge.

“Interestingly, as there is no town council in Weymouth – and therefore no town council charge – it actually has one of the lowest band D council tax charges for a Dorset town compared to £1,753.02 in Swanage, £1,752.10 in Wimborne, £1,745.62 in Dorchester and £1,737.20 in Blandford Forum.”