A MOVE to harmonise council tax payments across North Yorkshire which is set to see its seven borough and district councils and county council unified “provokes a whole host of issues around fairness”, a meeting has heard.

A meeting of the council's executive was told residents in Hambleton district were facing having to pay significantly higher bills to bring their charges into line with those being levied by second tier authorities elsewhere in the county.

However, leading members highlighted that many Hambleton residents were also facing significant council tax charges for services such as public toilets that were levied by town and parish councils that in other places were being charged for by district councils.

In addition, concerns have been raised that under proposals to level up council tax charges across the county over two years residents in districts such as Harrogate, Scarborough and Richmondshire, residents would end up paying more for the same services from the unitary council for the next two years.

Councillors were told while Selby and Craven district residents faced paying relatively modest increases in their council tax to bring their payments up to the average,  Hambleton district residents were paying £89 less than the average district council charge across the county.

The meeting heard a cross-party group of councillors representing all seven districts had agreed while it was necessary to bring council tax charges into line across the county, the authority would not seek to increase the funds it generated from the levelling up exercise.

Corporate director Gary Fielding told the meeting that councillors had achieved a consensus that levelling up the charges over two years would be the best compromise.

He added: “The group did recognise that this does provke a whole host of issues around fairness. Fairness is perhaps in the eye of the beholder, but this was recognised as an appropriate way forward.”

The authority’s executive member for finance, Councillor Gareth Dadd, said there was no easy way for the council to harmonise council tax charges and that there would be “winners and losers”.

He said while Hambleton residents paid less council tax by the district council than other areas, they paid council tax charges to town and parish councils that residents of other areas did not.

Coun Dadd said: “In some of the ‘winning’ areas there currently isn’t a town council that picks up some of the services.”

After receiving the approval of the authority’s executive, residents will be consulted over the proposal, which will also be considered at a full meeting of the council next month.