|Ealing's Council Tax Frozen For Sixth Year|
Package of investment unveiled but £87 million in cuts
Council tax will be frozen in Ealing for another year despite the authority having to find £87 million in cuts.
Ealing Council's unveiled plans to 'invest millions in local services to make the borough a better place to live' - but has not yet revealed where the axe will be falling.
More money will be spent on school places, special education provision and additional nursery places. Parks, sports and leisure facilities will have new investment in playgrounds, play equipment and the promise of a new skate park.
Ealing Central Sports Ground, Perivale Park and Gunnersbury Park wll get more than £1million of additional funding. The ‘Bunny Park’ in Hanwell will get £100,000 to improve the animal centre’s enclosures.
Three new open spaces will be created by bringing back to life wasted or derelict sites as part of the council’s £625,000 Places for People scheme. The programme to renew roads and pavements will get £1.2million for the year ahead, this is on top of £3.5million per year of planned spending up to April 2018. Hanwell Station’s southern entrance will be reopened using a mixture of grants and council money. The scheme will include new lighting and CCTV to ensure passenger’s journeys are safer as well as easier.
17.6million is being invested to build 74 new homes and a multi-million-pound investment programme to rebuild and upgrade homes on council estates including South Acton, Green Man Lane, Copley Close, Dean Gardens, Havelock Estate and Rectory Park.
The council say it's been one of the toughest periods in their financial history in which funding from central government has been significantly reduced. They claim this plus inflation and extra demand on services, has forced them to find £87million cuts by April 2015.
This year the authority's main government grant will be reduced by £17.4million.
Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for finance and performance, said: “While the council’s annual income for running its services has been cut severely we have been able to take money from our capital budgets to invest in local services. By improving public services and investing in our towns, homes, leisure and transport services Ealing will continue to be a great place to live and will attract new investment, jobs and economic growth.
“Although we have agreed these one-off infrastructure projects now, the scale of likely reductions to the council's funding over the next few years means the prospect of future investment is bleak.”
Cllr David Millican, Conservative Group Leader said: ''An incoming Conservative Administration would freeze the Council Tax for 4 years. Labour has confirmed that they will revert to type and hike Council Tax after the next election. Labour was only able to freeze Council Tax thanks to a £25.2M Council Tax Grant from the Conservative-led Government.
''Only a Conservative Administration is prepared to give residents certainty by freezing their Council Tax bills for next four years. This means that the Council Tax will have been frozen for 10 consecutive years.''
The Liberal Democrats last night put forward an alternative budget which would have meant an extra £1.6 million spent on roads and paving across the borough, as well as getting rid of the garden tax. This was rejected.
Liberal Democrat Financial Spokesperson Councillor Andrew Steed said: ''On the doorstep I constantly am told that people are sick of having to pay the garden tax. It is a stealth tax. Only the Liberal Democrats put forward proposals to ensure the Council spend more on maintaining our roads and pavements. Both the Tories and Labour party voted again this.''
The bulk of the savings needed to reach the council’s target of £87million by April 2015 have been achieved however £13.3 million still needs to be cut.
See Budget meeting report for more details.
26th February 2014