Cheshire West and Chester Council leaders vote on tax freeze


Neil Bellis

COUNCIL tax charges will be pegged for at least two years following a decision by Cheshire West and Chester Council leaders.

Details of council budgets covering the next three years will now go to a key full council meeting on March 3.

But deputy council leader Cllr Les Ford, CWaC executive member for resources, has put forward a motion which makes clear there will be no council tax increases for the years 2014-15 and 2015-16.Speaking at last night’s executive meeting of the Conservative-controlled council at the HQ building in Chester, Cllr Ford said the council was facing more cuts from central government.

He said he wanted to move as early as possible to make the necessary changes to reduce the budget by £49 million – 20 per cent of the entire net council budget – over the next four years.

Cllr Ford, of Helsby, said: “This budget cuts waste and innovates to try to give residents better services at a lower cost.

“It is a three year budget and we do not want to increase council tax for the next two years. In the meantime we are building and investing for our residents across the borough.”

Council leader Mike Jones welcomed Cllr Ford’s proposals, saying the three year budget would give “certainty” to businesses, their staff and residents.

The Tattenhall ward councillor said: “We have spent a lot of time in the last 12 months creating a three year plan to give our business community, our staff and residents confidence. We have protected our frontline services as far as is possible.”

However opposition councillors questioned the wisdom of setting council tax rates so far in advance and also criticised the executive for its decision of where some of the cuts might fall.

Cllr Ben Powell, CWaC Labour spokesman on finance, said: “I find this quite unimaginative. The council is going to retain a bloated management structure and most of the restructuring will come at the bottom.

“Hundreds of fifth tier staff will lose their jobs and not one will be lost from the top tier.”

Cllr Powell, from Ellesmere Port, also criticised the proposed changes to school transport provision which could see parents of disabled children having to pay up to £1,200 a year for their child to be taken to school.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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