Senior Conservative councillors at Hart are warning that next year's council tax could rise 28 per cent.

They say this is caused by piles of extra paperwork foisted on them by a Government which gives them no grant to pay for it, plus plans to change the way councils are funded.

Now the councillors are planning a revolt against what they call Government-imposed burdens. They are calling it "Hart Broke" and want to involve local residents and other councils in similar positions.

They are talking of marches on Whitehall and a major campaign to draw attention to what they say are unfair policies aimed at penalising the "rich" southerners who didn't vote for the Government, according to one source.

One presentation made to council officials and members this week as the Star went to press stated: "Our role is to act in the best interests of the people of Hart. We are not here simply to impose the dictats of central government."

The government is currently consulting on new ways of funding local government. It seems that Hart and five other southern local authorities will be hardest hit, as they are perceived by the government as "wealthy."

This could mean a tax rise of 28.1 per cent next May if no protection is provided.

Operation Hartbroke's authors claim that even without the government plans to transfer resources to the north of England the district faces a tax rise of 13.8 per cent if no change is made to spending plans.

Hart looks likely to be at least £584,000 worse off under the new proposals.

The Hart Conservative councillors say this is not acceptable and they will launch a "multi-level campaign to secure concessions from the Government and let Hart taxpayers know we are prepared to take on the fight."

It is understood that Hart officers are also to be instructed to spend taxpayers' money as if it were their own!

Operation Hart Broke is launched tomorrow, Friday, and will roll out over the next few weeks, with local MPs also being involved. The Government deadline for comments is September 30.