Central Beds Council plans to freeze tax for 5th year in row

Central Beds Council’s executive has backed investing in local services and communities to the tune of more than £315million from next April.

For the fifth consecutive year the authority does not intend to increase its share of council tax while still protecting frontline services. Last week’s meeting recommended that the Central Beds Council element of a Band D council tax bill will remain at £1,308.33.

That is despite the fact that Central Beds, in common with all local authorities, is facing significant reductions in its grant funding from central government. In order to balance the budget, the plan includes savings of £13.7million.

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The shortfall is being made up with efficiency savings, including cutting overheads and running costs and delivering services differently.

One of the budget’s key focuses is on the council’s approach to provision for older people and more vulnerable residents. Significant investment is planned for independent living schemes and sheltered housing to allow people to live in their own homes for as long as possible.

And there are proposals to redevelop a number of garage sites across the area as well as building new social housing.

Also part of the council’s planned £113million capital programme for 2015/16 is funding for the ongoing programme of creating 6,500 new school places over the next five years and a multi-million-pound pledge to maintain our road network and invest in new schemes, including £200,000 towards a transport interchange in Leighton Buzzard and £360,000 to upgrade the town’s West Street car park.

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Funding is earmarked for a new waste treatment facility in Dunstable and revamps of the other three household waste and recycling centres in Leighton Buzzard, Ampthill and Biggleswade.

Among the headline figures for the £186.5million revenue budget are plans to spend £63.7million on social care health and support services, £44.2million on children’s services and £36.4million on community services.

The executive considered feedback from the consultation on the draft budget, which included responses from around 550 residents and community groups, and the council’s four overview and scrutiny committees.

Cllr Maurice Jones said: “The services we provide are important to everyone and that is why I am delighted that so many people took the time to respond to our public consultation on the draft budget.

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“Despite having a large savings target to meet, we are still planning on significant investment in public services. We also have an ambitious capital programme which will make a massive difference to the lives of our residents for many years to come.” The budget will be finalised by full council on February 26.