10:43 Wednesday 29 January 2014

Council tax freeze proposed for East Cambridgeshire

Written byJORDAN DAY

East Cambridgeshire District Council's offices. East Cambridgeshire District Council's offices.

Bosses at East Cambridgeshire District Council have announced they plan to freeze council tax this year.

In 2012/13, council tax in the district increased by three per cent and last year it went up by two per cent.

But for 2014/15 the authority is hoping not to have to ask residents to fork out more.

The council says the success of its “ongoing medium-term financial strategy” has continued to deliver savings and allowed it to build its reserves to a “sustainable level”.

And despite refusing the Government’s offer of a Council Tax Freeze Grant in 2012, the authority has this time decided to accept it.

James Palmer, leader of the council, said: “Over the last four years, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure we use our limited funds wisely for the benefit of East Cambridgeshire.

“This mantra of always seeking best value for money has allowed us to again present a balanced budget for the next financial year.

“This is a significant achievement which officers and councillors should be proud of as we continue to deliver the best for the district.

“This diligence has allowed the council to propose a tax freeze for next year, which is incredibly important to the hard-working people of our district who have seen many of their bills rise in recent months.

“We believe the freeze will lighten the financial burden a little as the economy continues to recover.”

The proposed budget for 2014/15, which includes accepting the grant, will be presented to the council’s finance and governance committee tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.

The recommendations made by members will then be put before full council when it meets next month.

Cllr Palmer said: “There are many challenges we will face in the years to come but we have learnt that by taking early and decisive action we have made the right decisions for the district.

“We will undoubtedly face many more hurdles in the future but through initiatives such as the ‘root and branch’ review we are determined to be ready for them.”

The authority’s decision to reject the Council Tax Freeze Grant in 2012 sparked anger at the time, particularly from Liberal Democrat and Independent members, who pleaded with the Conservatives to accept it.

But they voted against it after hearing from Linda Grinnell, head of finance, that it would leave “holes” in the budget in years to come.

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