Council Tax rise divides town hall

Lancaster Town Hall.
Lancaster Town Hall.

The district’s budget has been set with no major cuts or closure of public buildings or services.

But the city council’s proportion of council tax will rise by almost 2%, although the council leader said this will equate to just 7p less in the average homeowner’s pocket.

Lancaster City Council voted 32-21, with one abstention, to approve the budget yesterday at Morecambe Town Hall.

Labour and Green councillors voted in favour, with Tory and Morecambe Bay Independent (MBI) councillors voting against. The free independents were split with Coun Paul Woodruff and Coun Joyce Taylor voting in favour. Coun June Ashworth, MBI and mayor of Lancaster, abstained.

Coun Peter Williamson, Tory leader, said he could not support the budget due to the council tax rise.But Coun Eileen Blamire, Labour leader on council, said: “We haven’t closed any buildings or taken away grants to organisations that we value and we should be proud to achieve this.”

The council agreed a £18.54m budget for 2014/15, which is a 6.5% year on year reduction in net spending.Spending will have to be cut by a further £2.5m over the next two years. £1m has been put aside from council balances to help protect services in 2015/16 and this may also happen in ensuing years.The Government has given the council £1.7m less funding this year, 13.8% down on the year before.

£4.8m will be spent next year on council housing maintenance, £1.2m on the Lancaster Square Routes project and £1.9m on the Chatsworth Gardens housing regeneration project in the West End of Morecambe.