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St Edmundsbury plans probably the lowest tax rise

Thursday, 11th February 2010.

Council tax is to go up in St Edmundsbury this year but it is thought to be the lowest rise in Suffolk.

Councillors yesterday agreed to recommend a 1.9 per cent rise, which they say will help to protect essential services and invest in the borough's future prosperity.

The rise would be the equivalent of a 6.3p a week rise for a band D property, and for a band B – the largest single group of households – it will be a rise of 4.9p a week.

Council leader Cllr John Griffiths, said: “We want to keep council tax rises as low as possible while making sure we have the funds to deliver the quality services our residents and businesses deserve.

"Having frozen council tax last year, we believe we will be able to deliver the lowest increase in the county again, thanks not least to the excellent way we have managed our resources."

Councillors made the recommendation at yesterday's cabinet meeting. Cllr Paul Farmer, pictured, cabinet member responsible for resources, said: “We need to balance the demand for our services with the ability of residents to pay for them.

"St Edmundsbury was one of a handful of councils nationally last year that acted promptly at the depth of the recession by freezing council tax.

"Now we need to raise £298,000 more than last year to ensure we protect important services while continuing to invest in areas that benefit many people."

The recommendation will go before the full council meeting on Tuesday, February 23.

St Edmundsbury has saved £1.9m from its budget over the past two years and is set to shave a further £2.2m in the next two years.

It is also looking to cut costs by sharing some services with neighbouring Forest Heath District Council.

Savings include not replacing a corporate director and some other staff when they leave, improved purchasing, additional efficiency savings from moving into West Suffolk House and increased income generation.

Among the investments planned for the next financial year are: nearly £9 million on a range of projects, such as Haverhill Community Football scheme, public realm works in Bury and Haverhill town centres, disabled facilities’ grants and home improvement grants for residents on low incomes, and grants to help improve village halls and play areas; the opening of The Apex venue in Bury St Edmunds; implementing an economic action plan to encourage and promote local prosperity; and developing masterplans to guide the future shape of the borough's towns and rural areas.

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