Fringe Box



Council Leader Outlines Main Budget Measures

Published on: 18 Feb, 2013
Updated on: 21 Feb, 2013
The budget for 2013-2014 was passed at Millmead last night (Feb 14th)

The budget for 2013-2014 was passed at Millmead on Feb 14th

In the wake of last week’s council meeting, where the budget for 2013-14 was approved by 27 votes to 11, Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, (Con, Ash South & Tongham) Leader of Guildford Borough Council, explained the thinking behind the budget plans.

He said: “Despite ongoing financial pressures we want to create opportunities, encourage growth and provide choice for future generations.

“Through shrewd financial planning, and by improving the efficiency of our existing services, we delivered savings of £2.49 million in 2011-12 and £2.58 million in 2012-13. We plan further savings of £961,000 in 2013-2014, including exciting changes to our recycling service to help residents recycle more.”

We are working on an ambitious programme of service improvements and investment. Cllr Stephen Mansbridge

“We are working on an ambitious programme of service improvements and investment. Our plans include:

  • increasing our support for Guildford Community Job Club and investing £80,000 into a local apprenticeship scheme
  • further work on homelessness prevention and £7 million of improvements to existing Council homes
  • investing in infrastructure research, including a strategic A3 corridor transport study, and Town Centre and approaches movement study
  • supporting the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership
  • investing £10 million in new affordable homes over the next two years
  • providing £40,000 for a new hardship fund to  support those most affected by Council Tax Benefit changes
  • improving our parks, car parks and crematorium

But a Lib Dem spokesperson said: “The proposals include a 1.99%* hike in council tax for residents in Guildford while at the same time the Conservative administration are cutting council tax benefits for the less well-off residents, increasing the cost of dial-a-ride and investing large amounts in consultants and temporary staff.

“The Liberal Democrat group voted against the budget, considering the proposals to have a negative impact on many residents of the which are unjustified and the current financial climate.

…we should not be increasing our council tax, keeping service cost increases to a minimum. Cllr Zoe Franklin

Justifying the 1.9% rise in the GBC portion of Council Tax the Conservative Council Leader Stephen Mansbridge said: “Changes to the way our government grant is distributed, and other funding reductions, mean that we must now increase our portion of the Council Tax by 1.9%.

“This is equivalent to an additional £2.74 a year, or less than six pence a week, for a band D property. This increase helps us to continue to deliver high quality services for our residents and reduce the risk of higher rises in the future.

“Our current band D Council Tax is five per cent lower than it would have been, thanks to the freeze in Council Tax during the last two years. A third year freeze in 2013-2014 would have a long-term impact on our income and the investment we could make in the borough.

“So this year we will keep to our policy of Council Tax rises below the rate of inflation. We must continue with our effective financial planning to make sure we achieve our aims for the benefit of everyone.

“We want to prepare positively for the future of our community and the local economy, to generate income and help support those in need. By continuing to transform the way we operate, and by using our assets more effectively, we will meet the financial challenges and provide a first class service to our customers.”

Deputy Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Zoe Franklin (Stoke) commented: “Budgets are a moral document that tell you about what and who are most important to a family, nation or in our case this council.

“In these difficult times we should be recognising the financial sacrifices being made by our residents. We be should be showing that we as a council are also tightening our belts and we should not be increasing our council tax, keeping service cost increases to a minimum.”

* 1.99% is the overall Council Tax rise agreed by Surrey County Council. The increase to the GBC element is 1.9%.

What do you think, was the council tax rise justified? Have your say. Use the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below.

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