Council tax freeze in B&NES, but North Somerset to increase
Two of Bristol’s neighbouring councils have set their tax bills for the coming year.
Residents in North Somerset will see council tax rise by 1.5 per cent, adding £17 to the current £1,150.87 bill for council services paid by Band D taxpayers, after councillors approved the Tory-run authority’s budget, which includes £9.7 million of cuts, last night.
In Bath & North East Somerset, which includes Keynsham and Midsomer Norton, councillors voted for a council tax freeze as they pledged to protect most front-line services.
The budget proposals for B&NES, passed at a meeting in the Guildhall in Bath last night, included £2.5 million of cuts. The Liberal Democrat-led authority said changes to Government funding were forcing it to make £30 million worth of savings over the next three years.
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The budget includes a reduction in mobile library services and the closure of some public toilets.
The council said it would continue with its £15 million capital programme including a £32 million transport package for Bath, producing an additional 375 school places over the next three years and the completion of the £34 million revamp of Keynsham town centre. It also confirmed it would keep open all children’s centres, libraries and leisure centres, and continue all weekly waste and recycling collections.
Council leader Paul Crossley said: “As a council we must recognise these are hard times for our residents. It is simply not fair to pay more when less is provided.
“These decisions save households money year on year and help them stay on top of their bills, giving them money in their pockets to spend in our local shops. Times are not easy. This is as true for our residents as it is for our businesses.”
The budget proposals came under heavy criticism from Conservative and Labour councillors.
Labour condemned the cabinet proposals to cut the early years and child services budget by nearly 40 per cent over the next three years and only agreed to support the budget if an amendment to use money from the council resources to defer the decision until 2014 was accepted.
Labour group leader and Paulton councillor John Bull said: “The Labour group does not agree with everything being proposed but we do understand in the national context there seems to be little alternative.”
The Conservative group was able to save £100,000 to guarantee free town centre parking in Keynsham at either Ashton Way or the Labbot car park while the town hall development is completed.