WHITEHILL, Bordon and Lindford’s county councillor Andy Tree has refused to back a county council budget that he says will cripple struggling residents with public service cuts while hiking their tax bill.

Cllr Tree, a member of Hampshire County Council’s two-member strong independent group, abstained from the vote at last week’s county council budget meeting in Winchester and has vowed to “continue to fight for a fair deal”.

The budget was, however, agreed – meaning Hampshire residents will pay the county council an extra 2.99 per cent for county council services in 2022/23, or an additional £40.41 for the average Band D home.

Cllr Tree said after the meeting: “Hampshire is considered an affluent county but has less affluent areas within it and the poorest will suffer the most with this budget. It is a shameful state of affairs in 2022 that in Whitehill, Bordon and Lindford, so many continue to rely upon food banks, a figure which is very likely to rise with cost-of-living increases.”

Cllr Tree blamed successive governments for failing to address the adult social care funding gap, which has left Hampshire County Council facing a £237m budget deficit by 2025.

“This leaves the Conservative administration at Hampshire County Council having to try to pick up the pieces,” he added, “and as a result, our residents are facing a council tax increase but service level cuts!”

He called on Tories both at Number 10 and in Hampshire to find an “appropriate” funding settlement for Hampshire.