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Opposition to 4.5pc council tax rise

PUBLISHED: 07:25 20 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:05 03 July 2010

GREAT Yarmouth's Labour group was last night due to challenge the borough council's proposed 4.5pc rise in council tax.

A £20m budget was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday night with the focus on efficiencies and savings rather than cuts.

GREAT Yarmouth's Labour group was last night due to challenge the borough council's proposed 4.5pc rise in council tax.

A £20m budget was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday night with the focus on efficiencies and savings rather than cuts.

It means an average Band D householder will pay £143.5p a year, an increase of £6.19p.

However, at last night's full council meeting, where proposals were due to be rubber stamped, councillor Brian Walker, Labour's deputy leader and spokesman for resources, was expected to challenge the Tory-led council by proposing the rise in council tax be cut to 2.5pc by removing £80,000 from general balances.

“It is only right that hard pressed local people should be protected from above inflation increases,” Mr Walker said yesterday.

Sebastian Duncan, head of financial services, said the council faced a difficult year balancing a budget that needed to maintain and improve services against a backdrop of falling income and extra pressures on services brought about by the credit crunch.

Savings included a non-replacement policy on 23 posts at the council and a sharp focus on value for money.

The council remained committed to an £18m capital investment programme which included the refurbishment of St Georges Theatre and its setting, upgrades of private sector housing to meet the Governments “Decency” standards and improvements at the Winter Gardens.

Mr Duncan said the council had not had to put off any projects but had been unable to move forward with some things because of uncertainty over the authority's future under the on-going local government review.

He added he hoped that tax payers would not notice any negative impact and that if anything services would improve. He said that only 10pc of the final council tax bill was levied by the borough council and the final bill for band D households would probably top around £1500 once Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Police and parish councils had added their share.

The report presented to cabinet highlighted the two-pronged impact of the recession which had hit income but increased pressure on council services as more people lost their jobs.

Officers were still waiting hear about the £2 investment in the Icelandic Heritable Bank which is in receivership. The report says: “Great Yarmouth faces a particularly challenging time over the next three years to bring its revenue budget into balance without the on-going use of one-off or windfall funding.

“To meet the on-going budget deficit of around £2m in the general fund and to support any future capital programme without having a major impact on services we need to adopt a range of strategies over the next two years to achieve efficiencies and savings and to use all our resources to best effect. The basis for these is set out in this document.”

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