Cheltenham to freeze council tax and car park charges
Published on 19th December 2012
Big savings in management costs will enable Cheltenham Borough Council to bring in a nil increase in council tax in the next financial year.
It will be the third year running that council tax has been frozen in Cheltenham. The council’s cabinet also proposes to make no increases in car park charges. Charges in the town’s off-street car parks, which are run by the borough council, have not been increased for nearly three years.
The interim budget proposals will be put forward at a meeting of the cabinet on Friday 21 December 2013. If approved, the budget will be open for public consultation from 21 December until 25 January 2013. Members of the public can comment online or at the Municipal Offices. They can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, Cllr John Rawson, said that continuing the freeze in council tax is morally the right thing to do. He said: “We are acutely aware that most of the people who elected us to this council have seen a fall in the value of their income over the past four or five years. Many people are struggling to make ends meet. That is why we believe it is right to help them out by keeping council tax level.”
However, Cllr Rawson added that the freeze has not been easy to achieve. “It’s no easy task to absorb inflation for a third year running. The Government has offered us some money towards the freeze, but it is only about half of what it will cost. Meanwhile, information supplied by the Department of Communities and Local Government suggests we are likely to see a cut of 9.3 per cent or more in government grant to the council next year, adding to the 23 per cent cut we have had over the past two years. The sluggish economy has not helped either, because it has led to a decline in our income from things like building control fees.”
“However the people of Cheltenham didn’t elect us to complain about the problem – they want us to get it sorted. That’s why we have continued with a massive programme of reorganisation and cost-cutting. I am proud that as a result of our efforts we have been able to keep council tax down while protecting frontline services.
“The total savings we have identified for next year are worth just under £1.3 million. A large part of this, £428,000, will come from sharing some of our services with neighbouring councils. Another £478,000 will be delivered by reorganizing and slimming down management and delivering services in a better way.”
Any comments – including those from residents and other councillors – will be fed back to cabinet before the final budget is prepared for consideration by the cabinet and full council in February 2013.
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