4% council tax rise agreed for second straight year as Peterborough City Council approves budget proposals

A four per cent rise in council tax has been approved for the second year in a row.

Thursday, 15th December 2016, 1:04 am
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 2:00 pm
Outside the Council chamber at Peterborough Town Hall on Bridge Street. Photo: Paul Franks/Peterborough Telegraph

Conservative members on Peterborough City Council have voted through the rise which will cost the average payer of council tax an extra £36.39 a year, starting in April 2017.

Further budget proposals which were approved yesterday evening (Wednesday, December 14) were for council lawyers to get a pay rise totalling £132,500 and for £48,000 to be spent on winter attendants at Central Park and Itter Park being re-instated.

A £186,000 pay rise for councillors - which was approved by the Conservatives at an earlier date - was also rubber-stamped.

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The budget also includes a £15 million investment to buy and land property in North Westgate to kickstart the much needed regeneration of the site.

The council is tackling an £18.8 million deficit for next year after seeing its government funding cut by £54 million over the last six years.

This equates to nearly 50 per cent of the authority’s grant.

To tackle the deficit, the budget proposals also include spending £9 million out of a £11 million reserve which comes from extra savings made from last

year’s budget.

Nearly £7 million of that comes from paying back debt over a longer period, ensuring short-term savings, but will cost more over the long run.

Cllr David Seaton, cabinet member for resources, said: “Taypayers in Peterborough will still pay one of the lowest [council tax] rates in the country.

“We have balanced the budget without cutting services.”

The reinstatement of winter attendants was broadly welcomed, but opposition councillors chose to criticise once again the decision to award themselves a pay rise which was voted through by the ruling Conservatives.”

The agreed proposals from tonight’s meeting are part of a two-phase process to set the 2017/18 budget.

Phase two proposals will be published in January for consultation then voted on in March.

The Liberal Democrats abstained on the vote, and Cllr Nick Sandford, the group leader, said: “We look forward to phase two when we can form a final judgement.”

The budget was passed by 35 votes to 12, with seven abstentions.

The Conservatives, Werrington First and UKIP councillors voted for the proposals, while Labour voted against them.

Aside from the Liberal Democrats, Liberal Party members Cllr Chris Ash and Cllr Bella Saltmarsh also abstained.

Cllr Ed Murphy, Labour and Co-operative member, raised a motion to adjourn the budget vote, so the council could consider whether to raise council tax more to pay for social care.

However, the motion was rejected.