Cutting Council Tax and Investing in More Services.
I’m delighted that we have agreed a budget for 2014, which will protect and increase current services, whilst also delivering a Council Tax cut of 1.5%.
As a result, the Brentwood Council element of the Council Tax bill will be less than it was in 2009.
This council tax cut is accompanied by extra investment across our Borough, with total spend exceeding £44m.
The budget is the result of sound financial planning over the last few years. Despite significant cuts in funding from the government, we are demonstrating that it is possible to do more with less and provide value for money for residents, as we not only reduce Council Tax bills but also continue to invest in services that matter most to residents.
The key highlights of the budget were as follows:
- Council Tax cut of 1.5% leading to real term reduction of 16% in Council Tax rates since 2009
- Free parking across Brentwood for 30 mins in all Council owned carparks
- £1.5m investment for a park and stride /ride scheme for Shenfield
- £100k investment in public realm for the Shenfield and Brentwood Stations areas.
- Introduction of a new “Green Redeem” schemes, which will reward residents for recycling, whilst also supporting local businesses
- Provision of free food waste recycling bags
- £100k investment in children’s play areas
- £50k for some additional pre-emptive tree work
- Continuation of the popular Neighbourhood Action Teams, to focus on keeping our Borough looking tidy
- Maintenance of Ward Budgets to fund localised projects
The ability to fund a council tax cut, whilst also investing in services has been made possible by a series of measures, including better procurement, renegotiating contracts and carrying out an extensive internal transformation programme, designed to not only save money but also serve residents better. This approach has saved the Council hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Unlike Lib Dem proposals, NO SERVICES HAVE BEEN CUT to fund the Council Tax reduction or the extra investment in services.
In stark contrast, Lib Dem plans included introducing extra parking charges and not cutting the grass verges, which says quite a lot about their priorities and would leave our borough looking a right mess, front line jobs under threat and mayhem and expense for residents wanting to park their cars when they come home at night. You’ll be pleased to know, we did not support these proposals!
Despite taking up a considerable amount of council officer time over the budget, other opposition parties failed to submit any proposals at all, with one claiming they didn’t have the time…! So, the Council’s most important meeting of the year, as it sets residents’ council tax, decides on services for Brentwood and agrees big capital spend and they run out of time. Hardly putting Brentwood first, now is it..?
Fortunately, the Conservatives did put the effort in and I’m proud of what we’ve delivered: A real term cut of 16% in Council Tax, with the Brentwood element of the bill, lower than in 2009, extra investment in key services, money for big projects approved and no service cuts to fund it!