Fire authority covering Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire sets council tax increase at 1.98%

Fire authority leaders have agreed a 2.5p a week average increase in their part of the council tax for the year starting in April.

The figure represents a 1.98 per cent increase – to £65.85 – for the average Band D property across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority’s area.

Bucks Fire HQ in Aylesbury

Bucks Fire HQ in Aylesbury

This amount will be added to the demands of councils and the police to determine the overall bills that will thud down on doormats later this year.

The authority also decided not to spend £600,000 this year on a referendum to ask the public for more money. But they put the idea on the back-burner as a possible for next year if they do not get more help from the government in the next 12 months.

Unlike the spiky political exchanges seen at previous meetings, the £30 million budget was approved without opposition following a legally required recorded vote at Wednesday’s meeting of the fire authority.
Authority members spent more time spotting spelling mistakes in the agenda papers than they did in debating the council tax increase.

This included an episode when the fire authority chairman, Cllr Lesley Clarke OBE (Cons, High Wycombe, Abbey), asked health and safety officer Ali Chart to spell the word “humerus”.

It was mis-spelt as “humourous” in a report on health and safety, including the number of broken funny bones.

On hearing her officer spell the word incorrectly, Cllr Clarke reminded her, in school teacher-style, of the correct spelling.

Cllr Clarke wasn’t the only councillor to get in on the proof-reading act as Cllr Keith McLean (Cons, Olney) also chipped in with a couple of his own corrections, too.

Also on the agenda was an item proposing a two per cent increase in its £72,780 budget for members’ allowances. The increase is in line with other authorities in the area, the meeting was told.

There was no debate on the issue either.

Under the scheme each member of the authority from April will receive a basic annual allowance of £1,272.

There are also a range of special responsibility allowances, including £12,708 for the chairman, down to £3,314 for lead members, and travel expenses on top.

At the same meeting the authority was told that the budget is so tight that it needs to increase its borrowing limits by £2 million to £8.797 million to cover a possible cashflow crunch.

The authority is waiting for payments relating to the development of new Blue Light Hub, including for the sale of Bletchley fire station, in Milton Keynes.