Council Tax Frozen for Fourth Year

But Labour administration budget does not make everyone happy

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Ealing’s council tax will be frozen for the fourth consecutive year.

The decision was made at the annual budget setting meeting of the council on Tuesday, 28 February.

But the Council say that because it is a one-off payment, the council will be left with a shortfall and have to find an extra £3.1million when the grant stops next year.

They claim the budget delivers a 'significant package of savings' as they continue to work towards reducing its spending by £85million following government cuts - a figure much disputed by the Conservative opposition group.

The council is investing in a number of areas next year:

- An additional £80million has been earmarked over the next four years for the borough’s schools. This includes projects to expand schools following a massive surge in primary school applications as well as improvements to special needs education.
- £1.3million to upgrade Hanwell and Perivale libraries and £890,000 to relocate Southall Library to the more accessible and centrally located Dominion Centre. This will be funded from the return of the £2million from the Icelandic bank administrators.
- More than £10million for resurfacing roads and pavements over four years, plus £1.5million to improve road signs, street markings, gullies and kerbs.
- £500,000 to improve the appearance and condition of the borough’s main high streets.
- £200,000 to put towards a new lift at Ealing Broadway station and upgrade its facilities in readiness for Crossrail.

Council Leader, Councillor Julian Bell, said: ''We’ve again frozen council tax, which is the right thing to do when so many families are facing financial hardship, but when the government grant stops next year there will be a £3.1million shortfall.

''More than half our funding comes from the government and we have to save £85million, but we are continuing to do all we can to protect our most vulnerable residents and frontline services.

''Despite the cuts I’m pleased we’ve still been able make some new investments, such as spending £80million to improve and expand schools and £10million for road and pavement renewal.

The Liberal Democrats had presented an ammendment to the budget and said their proposals would have been fairer - reducing Councillors' allowances and cancelling large scale projects.

Lib Dem Leader Cllr Gary Malcolm said: '' “The Liberal Democrats are saddened that the Labour party chose to turn down proposals, that the Council officers said were feasible, to reduce cuts that will now cause harm to vulnerable residents.”

Cllr David Millican, Conservative Group Leader, said:

“Labour has delivered a Budget, which overtaxes residents, and under spends on services at the expense of vanity projects such as the car park and new offices and computer equipment. 

''These are no substitute for valuable front line services such as weekly garden collection, charity rate relief to voluntary groups, services to the mental health users and the elderly.

''Last year Labour under spent its budget by £9.4M, which could have easily funded these services and still give a refund of £50 to each household. 

"Labour clearly has no idea about residents’ priorities.''


1st March 2012