RESIDENTS are being forced to pay much higher council taxes to help fund the 2012 Olympic Games.

Despite Ealing Council increasing their element of the tax by just 2.49 per cent, the precept added by London Mayor Ken Livingstone rose by 13.35 per cent, meaning an overall council tax rise for residents of 4.7 per cent, or £58.80 a year for Band D properties.

Fire and policing initiatives like the implementation of Safer Neighbourhoods teams accounted for 5.5 per cent of the Mayor's rise, with the rest going towards the Greater London Authority Olympic charge for all London boroughs.

Cllr Martin Beecroft, cabinet member for finance and performance, said the council was "disappointed" with the Mayor for such a large rise. "Our key objective this year has been to ensure the council tax rise is as low as possible," he said, "And we have achieved this by keeping increases to 2.49 per cent, which is in line with the current rate of inflation of 2.4 per cent.

"However, while recognising the need for investment to ensure a successful Olympics we are disappointed that the Mayor has not matched the council's ability to deliver both significant investment in public services and a low tax increase," he added.

The council's section of the bill means an increase of just 48 pence a week, or £24.81 a year. Now, by footing the bill for the Olympics which next year will cost Ealing residents an extra £33.99 a year, the council tax bill for a Band D property in Ealing will rise to £1,309.42, twice the level of inflation.

Ian Prowse, part of the Ealing Central partnership and Grange Grove Residents' Association called the rise "completely unfair".

"The Government has stressed the Olympics will benefit the whole country so they can get lottery money," he said, "But they are going completely in the opposite direction it is a total cheat. Either it is a national event and everyone contributes, or it is not."

Mr Prowse said Ealing businesses were also in the wrong place to benefit in any way from the massive redevelopment taking place in east London for the games. "The only effect we will see is more crowding on the tube." he said.

Shadow finance spokesman Barbara Yerolemou said: "I have heard the American team will be training in Birmingham. Why are they not paying towards the cost? The Conservatives have always stated that if the nation benefits, the nation should help cover the cost, not just Londoners."

Ealing's budget proposal, announced yesterday, will be finalised at a full council meeting on March 7. Cllr Beecroft said more than £15m would be invested in services like children and families, environment services, and adult social services. Another £2million will be put into council reserves.

The savings come from a programme of measures announced last December designed to improve "efficiency", from staff cuts to reducing stationery budgets.

There are worries that the increase in council tax will hit pensioners not on housing benefit especially hard.

If you have any problems concerning the rise in your bills call the Ealing Times with your story on 01494 755152