7:30am Tuesday 25th February 2014
By Alex Bysouth
A FREEZE on council tax until at least 2016 by the local authority will not stop funding being available for significant development of Northwich facilities.
The proposed two-year freeze will go before a full budget council on March 3, but if accepted would mean council tax set by Cheshire West and Chester on a standard Band D property would remain at £1,275.23.
The council tax proposals, announced at CWAC executive last week, would also mean the authority were eligible for government grant funding.
Councillor Les Ford, executive member for resources, said the authority’s medium term financial plan is based on previous successful budgets.
“We have continued, as we have always done in this borough to produce a sound way forward and be well ahead of the curve in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and savings,” he said.
“This is working very successfully enabling the council to make significant investments into sports and cultural facilities in Northwich, Ellesmere Port and Chester.
“Also, substantial investments into schools, where a detailed plan is being supported by government, and in our roads and pavements, as requested by many residents on the doorstep.”
The proposals would mean council tax payers in the borough will have paid an average 1.65 per cent rise over the last four years, compared to a 12.1 per cent rise in inflation.
Clr Ford added: “The budget continues the same themes as previous years by continuing to reduce waste, inefficient practices and bureaucracy and yet seeks to innovate and develop new ways of delivering and improving services to our residents at a much reduced cost.”
However, opposition resources spokesman clr Ben Powell criticised the budget proposals, adding that 322 members of lower tier staff would lose their jobs compared to zero cuts at senior level.
He said: “The council is going to retain what, by any standards, is a very bloated management structure with one of the highest numbers of senior staff of any council in the country whilst most of the restructuring has been at the bottom.”
Council leader Mike Jones said he was ‘absolutely staggered’ by the suggestions and that an ‘unbelievable’ number of managers had been taken out of the organisation.
Clr Jones added: “I find it odd when councils are coming to us asking how have you reduced your management costs the way you have, that we can be accused of bloated management.”
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