Coun­cil tax to freeze over next five years

Leader says front­line ser­vices will not be cut to fund ap­proved plans

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

HILLING­DON Coun­cil’s cab­i­net has ap­proved plans to freeze coun­cil tax for the next five years by sav­ing £15.3mil­lion.

The coun­cil needs to save £60m over the next five years, in­clud­ing £15.3m in 2015/16, when its cen­tral gov­ern­ment fund­ing will be cut by £13.8m.

Ma­jor sav­ings will come from ar­eas in­clud­ing adult so­cial care, chil­dren and young peo­ple’s ser­vices and res­i­dents’ ser­vices – but the coun­cil in­sists front­line ser­vices will not be cut.

The au­thor­ity will also invest in a new the­atre and mu­seum in Uxbridge, a new youth cen­tre in Hare­field, im­prove­ments to the bor­ough’s roads and pave­ments, and other en­vi­ron­men­tal and recre­ational projects.

Coun­cil leader coun­cil­lor Ray Pud­di­foot told the cab­i­net: “This is an ex­tremely sat­is­fy­ing po­si­tion to be in at this stage of the fi­nan­cial year. Coun­cils across the coun­try would bite your hand off to be in our po­si­tion.” The coun­cil’s plans in­volve sav­ing: £3m from its bud­get for res­i­dents’ ser­vices £1.6m from adult so­cial care £926,000 from fi­nance £907,000 from chil­dren and young peo­ple’s ser­vices

£317,000 from ad­min­is­tra­tion costs.

Coun­cil­lor Pud­di­foot said this would come from im­proved ef­fi­ciency and economies of scale and would there­fore not im­pact on ser­vices.

He said: “Although there are tough times ahead, thanks to our sound fi­nan­cial man­age­ment we are in full con­trol of the bud­get sit­u­a­tion.

“While other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are mak­ing cuts to ser­vices, our bud­get pro­tects front­line ser­vices that our res­i­dents value and pro­vides fur­ther in­vest­ment in lo­cal ser­vices and puts res­i­dents first.”

The coun­cil ex­pects to make up the bulk of the re­main­der of its re­quired sav­ings through in­creased coun­cil tax and business rates earn­ings, as more houses are be­ing built and more busi­nesses are open­ing.

The pro­pos­als will al­low coun­cil tax to be frozen for the sev­enth year run­ning – the ninth for over-65s.

Most fees and charges for res­i­dents, in­clud­ing park­ing charges, will also stay the same for a fur­ther year.

The cab­i­net voted through the mea­sures at a meet­ing on Thurs­day, De­cem­ber 18.

They will now go to a pol­icy over­view com­mit­tee and lo­cal res­i­dents for con­sul­ta­tion, be­fore go­ing be­fore full coun­cil in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

If ap­proved by full coun­cil, the pro­pos­als will be­come ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately.

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