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by Kirsteen Paterson
19 March 2024
Council tax freeze U-turn vote called as Scottish Government agrees more cash for rebel authority

First Minister Humza Yousaf and Deputy First Minister Shona Robison | Alamy

Council tax freeze U-turn vote called as Scottish Government agrees more cash for rebel authority

A council which defied the Scottish Government's council tax freeze looks set to vote for a U-turn next month. 

The move comes after ministers promised extra cash.

Argyll and Bute is one of two local authorities to announce increases for local residents, despite Humza Yousaf's plan for a nation-wide freeze.

Ministers offered regional administrations a share of £200m to come on board.

But the Lochgilphead-based authority agreed to raise its charges by 10 per cent in February, with leader Robin Currie calling that the "responsible decision" due to budgetary pressures.

The budget passed by just two votes and Inverclyde Council later announced it would follow suit. 

The moves triggered fresh talks with the Scottish Government aimed at reversing the decisions and delivering Yousaf's flagship policy.

That was announced at the SNP autumn conference in Aberdeen without consultation with council chiefs.

Now councillors in Argyll and Bute will be asked to vote again after ministers agreed to put up an additional £6.26m.

That includes £2.3m to address the impact of the severe weather the area suffered in October last year.

The sum was agreed by wellbeing economy secretary Màiri McAllan on Monday and a special meeting will be held next month.

If the 36-member body agrees, it will be a major boost for Yousaf and leave the Labour-led Inverclyde authority as the only one to raise local tax rates.

Lib Dem councillor Currie said: "I will be recommending that we freeze council tax for this year."

He stated: "We have been lobbying hard for equal support for Argyll and Bute which reflects the incredibly severe impact of unprecedented severe weather in October last year. We made a very strong case for that to the Scottish Government at a meeting we asked for in January this year. We have continued to press ministers ever since on a range of other issues.

"We are of course delighted that they have listened to our calls for severe weather support and that they have now provided for Argyll and Bute that extra assistance that we are fighting for."

The meeting date has yet to be confirmed.

The news comes after Deputy First Minister Shona Robison said she was continuing to "engage positively" with leaders in Argyll and Bute to "resolve any outstanding issues".

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