Council tax to be frozen despite swingeing cuts

Councillor Warren Bennett at Withy Grove Park in Bamber Bridge
Councillor Warren Bennett at Withy Grove Park in Bamber Bridge
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South Ribble residents will see council tax frozen for the next two years, if new budget proposals are adopted.

Despite reductions in its settlement from central Government - all Revenue Support Grant will end by 2019/20 - the council said it was able to make the deal because it has “performed above expectations” during the last financial year.

It means that if the budget is agreed at a full council meeting on March 2, the bill would remain at £208.38 per year for a band D property.

Other details proposed include a £250,000 investment in Withy Grove Park in Bamber Bridge to bring it up to Green Flag Award standard, and a £3m investment in housing, which would support the provision of new homes, the upgrade of existing ones and further help for people in supported accommodation.

A multi-million pound regeneration of Station Road in Bamber Bridge will also begin this summer, involving improving shop fronts, pedestrian areas and public amenities.

Cash has been made available through initiatives such as the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.

But the council is also looking to “reallocate its resources”, meaning the future of its propery portfolio is being assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Although details have yet to be decided, some properties - including Worden Arts Centre and depots - could be sold, and some could see investment made from council reserves to attract interest from public companies. The council insists it does not intend to sell off all of its assets.

Coun Warren Bennett said the budget was a testament to forward planning and careful management and they “embrace the challenge to become more self-sufficient”.

He said: “In addition to the worthwhile and exciting investments we’re proposing, I’m delighted that we have been able to freeze our share of council tax for the sixth time in seven years, and to demonstrate our confidence in the future, have proposed to freeze again next year.

“It is one of a number of ways in which we are trying to look after vulnerable people and keep more money in our residents’ pockets.

“We’ve continued to reap the rewards of investing in our front-line services like waste collection, where we have found substantial savings while actually improving the service to our residents.”