‘Volatile year’ to see 2% coun­cil tax rise

County pass mo­tion in a bid to ease pres­sures

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Laura Mowat laura.mowat@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

COUN­CIL tax is set to rise by nearly two per cent for the most ‘chal­leng­ing and volatile’ year yet.

At a full county coun­cil meet­ing on Thurs­day Fe­bru­ary 12, the mo­tion was passed for the tax rate to rise.

Chil­dren’s safe­guard­ing, adult so­cial care, im­prov­ing roads and fund­ing more school places are some of the chal­lenges the county coun­cil faces for this year’s bud­get.

Leader of the county coun­cil Martin Tett said: “This will be the most chal­leng­ing year since I joined the coun­cil 10 years ago.

“The bud­get has come un­der se­vere pres­sure.”

The rise in coun­cil tax will mean an av­er­age band D house­hold will pay an ex­tra 42p per week.

There were 35 coun­cil­lors who voted for the tax rise, five against and there were six ab­sten­tions.

Mr Tett warned that the forth­com­ing gen­eral elec­tion will bring a fur­ther axe to cen­tral gov­ern­ment fund­ing to coun­cils. He ex­pects cen­tral gov­ern­ment fund­ing to cease com­pletely by the end of the decade.

In a bid to make sav­ings, the county coun­cil will re­duce po­lice com­mu­nity sup­port of­fi­cers, re­duce the home to school trans­port and also the ap­pren­tice­ship pro­grammes that it runs.

He re­minded coun­cil­lors that Bucks al­ready has a lower rev­enue sup­port grant (RSG) per head than any­where else in the UK.

The RSG will re­duce by 21 per cent in next year’s bud­get, from £57.7mil­lion to £41.8m.

Mr Tett said: “There are risks and that is why we have con­tin­gency funds.

“We have a rea­son­able amount of re­serves to cope with any short­fall.”

Coun­cil­lor David Shake­speare, who is chair­man of the bud­get scru­tiny se­lect com­mit­tee said: “As al­ways, pro­duc­ing a bal­anced bud­get in the present f inanc ia l cir­cum­stance is a chal­lenge.”

Counc i l of­fi­cer Richard Am­brose said that he thought the bud­get was ro­bust and that the level of re­serves is ad­e­quate. He did ad­vise the coun­cil that cap­i­tal schemes should be bet­ter man­aged so that there is ‘less slip­page’.

The county coun­cil will have a £48.9m re­duc­tion of funds over the next three years. BY the end of March, hun­dreds of lamps will have been re­placed with en­ergy ef­fi­cient lights across Bucks.

The third of Trans­port for Buck­ing­hamshire’s (TfB) LED street­light re­place­ment pro­gramme is al­most com­plete.

By March, 2,585 tra­di­tional lamps will have been re­placed with LED lanterns.

Since Jan­uary, the to­tal num­ber of street­lights re­placed as part of the pro­gramme has risen to more than 1,500.

The pro­gramme has stretched across the county and sees tra­di­tional sodium lamps re­placed with mod­ern LED lamps, which save en­ergy, cre­ate lower car­bon emis­sions


LED street­lights will have re­placed 2,585 tra­di­tional lights by March and re­duce main­te­nance costs, as well as be­ing made of ma­te­ri­als with less en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

Next week the pro­gramme will be in the fol­low­ing ar­eas:

Den­ham Road, Den­ham, Fe­bru­ary 18-20, 9am to 5pm;

Sta­tion Ap­proach, Amer­sham, Fe­bru­ary 20-24, 9.30am to 3.30pm

The scheme is likely to be com­pleted across Bucks by March 2015.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.buckscc.gov. uk/ledreplace­ment.

This will be

the most chal­leng­ing year since I joined the coun­cil

10 years ago”


NUM­BER CRUNCH­ING: Coun­cil­lor David Shake­speare (be­low) says pro­duc­ing a bal­anced bud­get is a ‘chal­lenge’

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