Rise in council tax on agenda

Eileen Blamire
Eileen Blamire

Lancaster City Council could increase its council tax element by up to two per cent this year as it looks to balance its books following further government funding cuts.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, councillors made a number of recommendations for the council’s 2013/14 budget, including a rise in council tax, which would see an average increase of £3.85 per year.

Lancashire County Council is expected to freeze its element of the bill.

Options which will go before full council on February 6 also include a further freeze in council tax.

Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “Deciding on our budget proposals is always difficult but this year has been especially tough. Like all organisations the council’s finances have been impacted upon by the Government’s cuts to local authority funding. Rather than just concentrate on the next 12 months we have to look ahead to future years to make sure we are able to cope with further future reductions and how we can make savings of more than £1.2million in 2014/15.

“I believe that cabinet’s recommended budget achieves the right balance between ensuring we continue to provide a range of good services to local people within our existing resources.

“As well as making savings and thanks to prudent budgeting, we’ve managed to find some small areas where we can provide additional items for next year.”

Some of the council’s growth proposals for the 2013/14 budget include:

*Creating a special reserve of £50,000 to improve the district’s markets.

*Setting aside £10,000 for a city centre cycle race to continue the legacy of the Olympics

*Creating a new post of an empty homes officer to bring empty properties in the district back into use

*Subject to proposals from the Police and Crime Commissioner and assurances about areas covered, providing up to £99,000 in funding for PCSOs

*Reducing the council’s magazine, Your District Council Matters, from three editions to two

*Reducing the training budget for councillors by £6,000.