Council Tax will be frozen by South Ribble Borough Council for seven out of eight years if its proposed budget is adopted. (Follow this link for more news about the budget, including video and full report.)
Members of the council will be asked to agree to the freeze at a full council meeting in March, which would mean that householders won’t have to pay any extra for the council’s share of the overall bill in 2016/17. As a sign of its confidence in the future, the council has also announced it will not be raising Council Tax next year either.
It would mean that, for the next two years, residents will pay exactly the same for services from waste collection and recycling to environmental health and the maintenance of South Ribble’s award-winning parks. The bill would remain at £208.38 per year for a band D property.
The council again performed above expectations during the last financial year, with the negotiation of a new waste contract alone set to save more than £4m over the next seven years. And a number of significant investments are proposed as part of the budget for the next 12 months.
This year, a £250,000 investment would see Withy Grove Park in Bamber Bridge brought up to the standard required to receive a prestigious Green Flag Award. The proposals include landscaping, the creation of new footpaths and the installation of a sculpture.
It has also been announced that the multi-million pound regeneration of Station Road in Bamber Bridge will begin this summer. People had their say about the plans as part of a six-week consultation last year. The scheme will involve improving shop fronts, pedestrian areas and public amenities.
An investment in housing of £3m has also been proposed, which would support the provision of new homes, the upgrade of existing ones and further help for people in supported accommodation.
Through initiatives such as the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, the council is also set to continue its key role in facilitating the economic growth and prosperity of South Ribble. The council will work with partners, businesses, educators, developers and residents to ensure the growth of the borough is managed in a co-ordinated way, and that taxpayers receive the very best value for money.
The council is also looking at reallocating its resources, including its property assets and reserves. It will look for opportunities to invest in improving the borough and to generate income, which would help the council to become more self-sufficient.
Councillor Warren Bennett, South Ribble Borough Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Finance and Resources, said: “We’re still in challenging times in local government, but this vibrant and optimistic budget is a testament to our forward planning and careful management at South Ribble Borough Council. We embrace the challenge to become more self-sufficient, and our track record shows that.
“In percentage terms, we’ve had the toughest reductions to our funding of any council in Lancashire in the last six years. I’m very proud of my council colleagues, employees and partners for facing this reduction head-on. Their tremendous efforts have put us in a position to give the residents and businesses of South Ribble great optimism for the future, and I think that is reflected in this budget.
“In addition to the worthwhile and exciting investments we’re proposing, I’m delighted that we have been able to freeze our share of council tax for the sixth time in seven years, and to demonstrate our confidence in the future, have proposed to freeze again next year. It is one of a number of ways in which we are trying to look after vulnerable people and keep more money in our residents’ pockets. We’ve continued to reap the rewards of investing in our front-line services like waste collection, where we have found substantial savings while actually improving the service to our residents. I look forward to recommending this budget to full council in March.”
The budget proposals will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s cabinet of Wednesday 10 February, ahead of a decision at full council on Wednesday 2 March.