1% council tax rise in Central Bedfordshire recommended following public feedback on possible 2% option

Central Bedfordshire Council looks like limiting its council tax rise to 1% following a public consultation where residents were asked if they’d be happy with a 2% increase instead.

In the recent consultation, feedback was sought on proposals to invest £196m on public services, efficiency measures to save £14.8 million, and options for increasing council tax.

Council tax bill

Council tax bill

The public said it wanted to see the council continuing to find ways to be more efficient and deliver the proposed savings of £14.8million next year. This is in addition to the £135million already saved since 2009.

The Executive yesterday (Tuesday) agreed to recommend to full council there be a 1% increase in council tax and to invest more in some services, such as allocating a further £1million in CCTV, neighbourhood officers and other resources to tackle anti-social behaviour like fly-tipping.

Additionally, the Executive is recommending a further £1.05million to be invested in footpaths and cyclepaths to encourage residents to reduce car journeys.

In recommending the budget at Executive, Cllr Richard Wenham, Deputy Leader & Executive Member for Corporate Resources said: “We work really hard to keep council tax increases as low as possible but how our services are funded has changed.

“The funding we used to get from central Government for these services has stopped and Government expect us to raise council tax to fund services. However, our increase is one of the lowest in the country as a result of our efficient management of the council.

“Unlike many other councils, we are keeping our libraries open, renovating our tidy tips, investing in road maintenance and ensuring the most vulnerable people in our communities are supported to live happy and healthy lives. We are also investing in new cycleways and footpaths along with expanding our team of neighbourhood officers to improve public safety and our environment.

“We believe that our proposed 1% increase in council tax, reflects the balanced view expressed by the public that investing in public services is important, whilst also recognising the financial pressures many of our residents are facing.”

The final budget will be debated at the Council meeting on February 21.

A total of 1,725 people participated in the consultation.

55% (957) supported a 2% council tax increase for further investment in community safety, 37% (637) supported a 1% rise and 8% (131) chose not to answer.

50% (857) supported a 2% council tax increase for further investment in roads and pavements. 42% (720) supported a 1% rise and 9% (148) chose not to answer.

25% (436) supported a 2% council tax increase for further investment in recreational and leisure opportunities. 63% (1,094) supported a 1% rise and 11% (195) chose not to answer.

46% (785) supported a 2% council tax increase for further investment in services for children. 44% (757) supported a 1% rise and 11% (183) chose not to answer.

44% (760) supported a 2% council tax increase for further investment in services for vulnerable adults. 45% (780) supported a 1% rise and 11% (185) chose not to answer.

40% (688) chose to make further comments, with the most repeated (44 comments) being more facilities and infrastructure being needed for Leighton Buzzard (with specific requests for improvements to health facilities and provision of a Healthcare Hub). The importance of policing and concerns about increases in crime and anti-social behaviour drew 39 comments.