Members back the public over council tax freeze

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Budget spending was the key topic at this week’s meeting of South Kesteven District Council’s cabinet, where it was proposed the local authority freezes its element of the council tax.

Members discussed the 2015/16 budget ahead of a full meeting of the council on March 2, where the budget will be agreed.

If approved, the next financial year will see £15.391 million spent on the services the local authority provides, from street cleaning and waste collection to economic projects and leisure.

Cabinet members voted to recommend to full council a freeze on its precept after hearing the results of a public consultation. As reported in the Journal last month, SKDC asked the public to vote for either a freeze or an increase.

Head of finance Richard Wyles told members 107 replies were received – 51 per cent voted for the precept to remain the same, while 49 per cent supported an increase.

My Wyles said: “Some comments were very encouraging. I think the feedback demonstrated the community is very much aware of the pressures local authorities are under.”

Elsewhere, Lincolnshire County Council has proposed an increase in its precept of 1.9 per cent, while the police force is asking a 1.95 per cent increase.

Strategic corporate director Daren Turner made mention of the positive financial position SKDC finds itself in again this year by being well prepared for cuts in funding from central government. He added: “These are particularly challenging times for local government in the way local government is funded, and we don’t see it changing in the short or medium term.”

Coun Paul Carpenter, chairing the meeting in the absence of leader Coun Linda Neal, said: “We’re in a position that would make a lot of other authorities around this country very jealous.

“I’m very proud to be part of a council recommending a budget of this nature, where we’re maintaining our frontline services and still investing in our priorities.”

** What do you think? Are you pleased to see the district council precept frozen for another year? Or would you be willing to pay more to support services? Write a letter to Grantham Journal, St Petr’s House, St Peter’s Hill, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG31 6QB, or email comment@granthamjournal.co.uk