South Yorkshire: Fire bosses agree tax hike

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Council Tax bills in South Yorkshire are to increase further in April after the region’s fire service became the latest organisation to approve a rise.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is to increase its precept by around 3p per week for an average household after the 1.97 per cent increase was agreed by its governing authority.

It follows similar increases for next year also being planned by Sheffield Council and South Yorkshire Police.

The fire service says the increase will raise an extra £424,000 per year, allowing it recruit up to 16 new firefighters to replace workers departing through retirement.

The fire service authority rejected the alternative of a Government grant to freeze Council Tax, which would have brought in around £163,000 less.

It said the rise will see its share of Band D Council Tax in South Yorkshire by £1.28 per year, to £66.32.

Coun Jim Andrews, chairman of the authority, said: “We are absolutely committed to protecting frontline fire-fighting, which we know is so strongly valued by the people of South Yorkshire.”

“Whilst the decision to propose increasing our part of the council tax was not taken lightly, this small increase will help us to bring new firefighters into the service for the first time in several years and they will be an important resource for a long time to come.”

Chief fire officer, James Courtney, said: “I thank the authority for maximising the resources available to me and will put this additional funding straight into frontline firefighting.”

“We hope people will realise that this decision will help to safeguard the strength of our fire service for the future, ensuring the outstanding skills and experience of our current workforce can be passed on to a new generation of firefighters.”