Council budget: Council Tax rises as services cut

Ashfield District Council offices.
Ashfield District Council offices.

Cuts in services and a rise in Council tax are on the agenda when Ashfield District Council sets its budget on Monday.

The authority is recommending the plans following a public consultation after it announced it had has to save £1.1 million during the 2014/15 financial year.

An extraordinary cabinet meeting will finalise the council’s budget for 2014/14 which is recommended to increase Council Tax by 1.94 per cent.

It will mean a rise from £167.22 to £170.46 at Band D and would increase the council’s income by £98,000.

At a meeting on 20th February the council cabinet also recommended savings totalling £795,000.

These were arrived at after 1,000 people took part in a budget consultation in November and December.

Following the outcome of the consultation, Coun Chris Baron said that there would be only partial reductions in services that the majority of people did not want to see cut, rather than them being slashed altogether.

Coun Baron said: “The recommendations which will be made to cabinet reflect the support which residents gave to the options which they considered.

“Where we have been able to continue to provide a service, we have looked for a more efficient way of doing this.”

Coun Baron added: “Until the Government understands the value and importance of the kind of local services which we deliver, we will constantly need to look for savings if we are to protect much of what we do for the communities of the district.”

“I can ensure the people of Ashfield that they will continue to be fully consulted on our emerging plans for future years.”

The revised proposals total £795,000 which increases to £893,000 if Council Tax is increased by 1.94 per cent. Ongoing savings from the council’s programme of service reviews will make up the balance of the savings.

Under the proposals recommended by the cabinet:

• The Ashfield Festival will no longer be held, but a smaller budget of £33,000 will provide an enhanced Active Ashfield games programme.

• The closure of Huthwaite and Edgewood Leisure Centres is agreed in principle, subject to negotiations with SLM regarding the continuation of the facility at a reduced cost to the Council

• The Council introduces a charge of £1 for the sale of a pack of 100 dog bags at its four cash offices.

• Commercial partners, including social enterprises, will be sought to run three of the council’s park cafes at at Kingsway, and Portland and the golf course at Selston.

• The Council ceases to provide grants to the two parish councils in the district.

• Three public conveniences in Hucknall, Kirkby and Huthwaite are to be closed

• The budget for Christmas trees and lights will be reduced by £20,000.

• The Environmental Improvements budget is reduced by £25,000.

• The Pest Control budget is to be reduced by £42,000

• Community Protection budget to be reduced by £43,000, achieved by the deletion of two vacant posts.

• Grants to community groups budgets to be reduced by £31,000 and the remaining grant budget (£31,000) is allocated on the basis of £939 per member.