MEMBERS of Ryedale District Council voted for an increase in council tax last night (Thursday) following a heated budget meeting.

A proposal to freeze the 2021/22 council tax by the Conservative and Ryedale First Independent groups was defeated in favour of increased the tax by around £5 a year for the average Band D.

Earlier this week North Yorkshire County Council voted to increase an average Band D bill to £1,411.05 for 2021/22, an increase of around £47.

The leader of Ryedale District Council, Councillor Keane Duncan, said the increase - supported by Liberal, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors - was wrong in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: "To increase the burden on hardworking families now is plain wrong. We stand with the residents of Ryedale who may be having a tough time as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The freeze we proposed would have represented a cut in real terms for every household in the district when they needed it most.

"The increase agreed by Liberal, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors is a massive misjudgement and a great shame for residents."

The meeting also saw funding of around £2million allocated to a number of projects including the livestock market and Milton rooms in Malton.

Cllr Di Keal, Leader of the Liberal Democrat’s said: “Last night's meeting of Ryedale District Council and the decisions made to allocate money in the council's budget to projects that we believe people in the district want to see delivered is a huge boost for our residents.

“Supporting community projects, facilities and buildings across the district is a crucial part of what the council should be doing and allocating money towards the cattle market, Milton Rooms and other projects will give the groups that run them the confidence to take their plans forward knowing that the council is behind them.

“Obviously they will still need to have sound business plans and costed proposals to access funding - the money is not automatically available to them, but having money in the budget should give these projects the impetus to move forward.”

Councillor Steve Mason added: “This is a statement of intent from the council. Investment into community assets is vital for the residents of Ryedale. Spending on a sound rural economy is a pragmatic policy.

“The tiny rise in council tax, for those who can afford it, to support this investment is a small price to pay at just under a fiver a year.

"And I am sure their will be huge benefits to the economy in Ryedale from a potential investment of £2 million.”