Council leader speaks out on council tax rises

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Council tax is going to have to increase if we are to see any real improvements to our roads, the leader of Bucks County Council has said.

The Local Government Chronicle (LGC) announced yesterday, Thursday, that three quarters of county councils look set to increase council tax next year.

A survey carried out by the LGC found Tory-controlled county councils are planning to reject the government’s council tax freeze grant, equivalent to a one per cent council tax increase, for the 2014/15 financial year.

Writing for the LGC on Thursday, leader of Bucks County Council (BCC) Martin Tett said: “As a Conservative county council, Bucks has been proud to support a freeze on council tax over the past three years.

“I had hoped we could deliver another year of council tax freeze but an analysis of the financials shows this just isn’t possible.

“Despite having made savings of some £85 million over the past four years and transformed the way the council works, it has not been enough.

“The bottom line is that we need to find at least a further £60 million of savings to balance the budget.”

As well as raising council tax, Mr Tett said BCC was looking to sell property, combine services and “squeeze every penny of savings we can from our operations and our asset holdings”.

He said residents’ top priority was the state of the county’s roads but a two per cent increase in council tax would just maintain essential services to the most vulnerable and would not allow any extra funding for road repairs.

He promised that any increase in council tax above two per cent would be spent solely on more road investment.

BCC says a four per cent increase would allow an extra £4 million to be spent on roads, filling an extra 75,000 potholes.

A five per cent increase would provide an extra £6.2 million for road repairs.

Any council tax increase over two per cent would require a local referendum.

A public consultation and questionnaire on residents’ priorities and council tax increase, entitled Your Council, Your Money, Your Choice, closes on November 17.

Find it at http://bucksconsultation.buckscc.gov.uk