County council set to increase tax by 3.8%
Posted on January 24, 2008
Update: For the full amounts, see Eaton Bray 2008-09 Council Tax Bill
Beds County Council says its tax burden will increase by 3.8 per cent from April. But this is the lowest increase in its portion of the council tax in a decade.
It means a band D household will pay County Hall £1,123.46 - up from £1,082.33. The other 25 per cent of council tax payments goes to the police, the fire service and town and parish councils, which will be setting their budgets shortly.
County council deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, Cllr Richard Stay, said: "The county council intends to keep its promise to keep council tax down and protect the services people tell us matter the most.
This year's proposed budget will do that.
"Yes, there will be financial pressures in services like older people's social care, because of increased demand linked to an ageing population, but I believe we are well placed to deal with these and protect services as much as possible.
"We are also making sure that investment in public priorities remains strong.
""Surveys carried out in November told us that residents' main priorities have not changed, and that roads, community safety, care for older people and improving education were still services which mattered most to the people of Bedfordshire."
Cllr Stay said the Government had this year given councils across the country the worst financial settlement in ten years.
This means Beds and Bucks will once again get slightly less money from the government in real terms and year after year it's spending power is squeezed a bit more, forcing cut-backs.
By economising it has managed to make savings of £15.4 million in the last two years, with another £4.9 million expected by the end of the current financial year in March.
Council leader Cllr Madeline Russell claimed more savings would have been possible if it had not been for the uncertainty surrounding plans to cut away one layer of local government in Bedfordshire.
The Government has said it is "minded to approve" Bedford Borough Council's bid for unitary status, effectively abolishing the county council and apparently paving the way for a merger of Mid and South Beds councils into 'Central Beds'. County Hall meanwhile has launched a judicial review and remains confident of turning the tables.
Cllr Russell said: "The only way to keep council tax down and preserve essential services is through a countywide unitary authority.
"Our plans are the only efficient and effective option on the table."
South Beds District Council counters, however, that county is continuing to misrepresent the issues.
It says the district councils' financial forecasts have been rigorously checked and it is untrue that creating two new all-purpose unitary councils in place of the present pattern would damage services and lead to increases in costs.
South Beds says its detailed proposal is not based on cutting the budgets for frontline services.
The government's decision, expected in late February on the future of all four councils in the shire.
Across the border in Bucks, people living in Aylesbury Vale are facing an average council tax rise of 9p per week for the wide range of services they receive from the district council.
At a meeting last Tuesday, AVDC's cabinet agreed to recommend a four per cent rise for 2008/9, which equates to an extra £4.83 a year on a band D property. Householders in band D would pay £126.04 for the year.
A district council spokesman said the authority is planning to spend £20 million on services in 2008/9, of which £11.6 million will be provided by the government and £8.4 million will be raised through council tax.
In addition, the cabinet is recommending a capital programme of more than £100 million over the next four years.
Major spending schemes include the construction of the new theatre in Aylesbury, working with partners to deliver social housing across the district and a new multi-storey car park in Walton Street, Aylesbury
About 10 per cent of each household's annual council tax is kept by AVDC. The rest of the bill goes to the county council, Bucks Fire and Rescue Service, Thames Valley Police and local parish councils.
The final decision on the council's budget will be made on February 6.
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Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 22 January 2008
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