Bury Council freezes tax bills for upcoming financial year

By Dean Wilkins

Council tax bills in Bury are being frozen for the coming financial year, despite on-going budget cuts.

Councillors agreed to sustain the current tax bill for each band yesterday, whilst endorsing savings of £7.9million in the next financial year. This is part of the Council’s plan to save £17.7million by 2015, coming on top of the £14.4million being saved in the current period.

The meeting also agreed that council rents would rise by an average of 6.2 per cent from April, 1.43 per cent less than the Government’s suggested guidelines of 7.63 per cent. However, the council said that inflation had fallen since the figures were first calculated and therefore it would be wrong to punish tenants.

Councillor Mike Connolly, leader of the council, said: “The budget cuts imposed on the council by the Government are massive and unprecedented in scale. It’s not what we want to do, but we have been left with no choice, and we have another two years of this to go. Nonetheless, we have done all we can to look after our vulnerable residents and hard-pressed families by shielding key services from the worst of the cuts and keeping down the council tax.”

Cllr John Smith, executive member for finance, said: “We decided to approach the challenge as a three-year exercise to ensure the budget is sustainable going forward and the authority is “fit for the future”.

“This was enshrined in the Plan for Change which sets out how the council intends to manage many of the financial and organisation changes it faces over the next three financial years, while protecting front-line services and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided.

“The Plan for Change was our commitment to consult widely, fully and openly with the people who are affected by what we do. The Budget and Choices consultation was the most comprehensive and wide-ranging consultation exercise ever carried out in Bury, and a total of 4,000 responses were received. I am extremely grateful to everyone who took part and I can assure them that when we came to make our recommendations on the budget we were mindful of everything that was said.”

On freezing the council tax, Cllr Smith added: “The Government’s offer to fund this freeze turned out to be for one year only. It means we have had to save a further £800,000, on top of the Plan for Change savings, and we will have to find a further £2 million next year.”

The council tax for each property band for the financial year 2012/13 is:
Band A

Band B

Band C

Band D

Band E

Band F

Band G

Band H

The council agreed three amendments to the original budget proposals considered by the Executive last Wednesday. These are: to scrap car parking charges at Fairfax Road in Prestwich; to reverse plans to charge Blue Badge holders to park; and to provide an extra £100,000 for youth services.

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