Council Tax frozen for seventh year in eight

Council Tax has been frozen for the seventh time in eight years by South Ribble Borough Council.

It means householders will not have to pay a penny extra for the council’s share of the overall bill, which will remain at £208.38 per year for a band D property.

As part of the 2017-18 budget, which was passed at a Council meeting last night (Wednesday), residents will still benefit from the same level of excellent services from the council, including waste collection and recycling, town and village regeneration and the upkeep and improvement of South Ribble’s award-winning parks.

In fact, the council has once again pledged £500,000 to the maintenance of the borough’s green and open spaces to ensure they are kept at their very best for residents to enjoy.

Unlike the majority of other councils in Lancashire, South Ribble also committed to not introducing charges for the collection of garden waste in 2017/18 – with Councillor Susan Snape committing to exploring all ‘alternatives’ before the next budget.

Councillor Snape also set out her plans to focus on income generation to support the delivery of frontline services.

One idea is to use money to buy properties in the borough which would offer long-term rental income. A similar scheme recently got underway at Momentum Business Centre in Bamber Bridge, where the council is renting out newly acquired units to local businesses.

The need for this scheme is highlighted in a new Medium Term Financial Strategy report that shows the budget deficit is likely to be just over £1 million by April 2018, rising to £2.6 million by 2020.

In a bid to make savings, the council is also continuing to examine the option of sharing more services with neighbouring councils to ensure the best value for money for residents.

Meanwhile, work continues to steam ahead under the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal which will create 20,000 new jobs, 17,000 new homes and deliver multi-million pound infrastructure improvements for communities. Over its lifetime, it will grow the local economy by an estimated £1 billion.

Under the deal, the next financial year will see the completion of the £3.5 million regeneration of Bamber Bridge as well as decisions on the Penwortham Bypass Scheme and plans to transform the Cuerden site, representing opportunities for commercial, residential and industrial development - with IKEA already registering their interest.

Councillor Peter Mullineaux, leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: “Times continue to be tough in local government but we have worked hard to be able to freeze our share of Council Tax for the seventh time in eight years.

“I am very proud of that fact that we are able to support families from across the borough and keep more money in our residents’ pockets.

“Careful financial management is at the centre of everything we do at the council and we are putting in place a wide range of strategies to ensure we meet the challenges ahead.

“The next three years in particular will be very difficult, but we are absolutely committed to tackling this challenge head on.”