James Arbuthnot and Gerald Howarth have added their support to Operation Hart Broke, the campaign to stop the government taking £600,000 of local taxpayers' money next year.

The MPs have fired off a joint letter to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott urging him to look urgently at the "extremely unfair" implications of the Local Government White Paper for the council tax payers of Hart.

The MPs tell Mr Prescott: "It appears that Hart is one of only six district councils that could suffer significantly from the changes in local government funding which you are currently considering.

"It is our understanding that in the worst case being considered, Hart would have to pay at least £600,000 to the government straight out of its revenue, i.e. a subsidy from local householders.

"We urge you to look closely at the consequences of the different options that are being considered.

"Once you have done so, we are sure you will agree with us that it cannot be right to require a small council such as Hart actually to subsidise other councils up to the tune of £600,000.

"Should you require them to hand you a cheque for this amount, it is our constituents who will be the ones to suffer.

"Hart is the only council in Britain not to have received any Revenue Support Grant for the last four years. This was bad enough.

"It would be the height of injustice if you now decided effectively to transfer up to £600,000 of our constituents' council tax money to other areas."

Cllr Lorraine Fullbrook, the Hart cabinet member overseeing the hard-hitting campaign, said: "We are delighted that both our MPs are supporting Operation Hart Broke."

She has sent all 35 councillors a detailed 16-page Operation Hart Broke briefing.

"Most councillors simply find this massive increase unacceptable and think it is so important to do everything we can to bring it to the attention of Hart residents," said Cllr Fullbrook.

"They can help us fight this grossly unfair and inequitable way in which this government will take even more money from Hart for which they will see absolutely nothing.

"We need to make a lot of noise about this, so residents know how crucial their help is and we need every councillor who represents somewhere in Hart, irrespective of their political allegiance, to play their part.

"This is well above party politics."

Hart has already written to hundreds of council-funded groups asking them to support Operation Hart Broke.

Residents have been urged to sign a petition on the council website www.hart.gov.uk urging John Prescott not to penalise local people in order to send money to councils in the north.

New plans to change local government financing could mean that Hart is one of just six authorities nationwide to suffer enormous local tax increases.

The Tories warn Hart's position is the worst in the country as it is the only council in the UK to have received no Revenue Support Grant for four years.