‘Volatile year’ to see 2% council tax rise
County pass motion in a bid to ease pressures
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’