March 9 2014 Latest news:
By Chris Bishop
Friday, February 8, 2013
Parking charges and the borough’s share of the council tax look set to be frozen across West Norfolk.
If councillors agree, that means the average Band D household will pay £111.97 a year towards the borough and services it provides such as waste collection, planning and public spaces.
Council leader Nick Daubney said: “I am pleased to be recommending to council that we freeze our portion of the council tax bill again.
“We have always undertaken to keep any increase at or below the rate of inflation and our performance in this area has meant that for the average Band D household, council tax has increased by only 3pc in the last eight years.”
Full council meets to vote on the freeze on Tuesday, February 21. It will also be asked to hold car park charges at their current levels, to continue with the three hours for the price of two initiative, and to continue with the removal of the evening charge in Hunstanton, which traders say has boosted business.
Officials say the budget presented to the full council shows that the books have been balanced for 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 due to the early action taken by the council to identify savings and efficiencies.
There is, however, a projected shortfall that will come about in 2016/17 for which work is already under way looking at shared working, partnership working and the sale of services to other authorities.
Mr Daubney said despite the challenging economic climate, the focus remained on encouraging and supporting business growth and ensuring that there is a supply of suitable housing for people to live in.
“This authority continues to play its part in holding down costs to the council tax payer, and our record on keeping council tax down is exemplary,” he said.
“But standing still isn’t an option. We need to drive forward with initiatives and programmes that will put West Norfolk in a good position for the future. That means having decent homes for people to live in and having thriving businesses that help support the local economy and provide work for local people. We think that the measures included in our budget for the next three years will help us do just that.”
Work has started on a joint initiative on the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area (Nora) to develop 155 homes with Norfolk County Council. The council has also made adjustments to council tax charges for second homes and empty properties with a view to encouraging landlords to bring empty properties back into use.
A new enterprise and innovation centre is planned for the Nora site, in partnership with Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services, and the borough council has also launched a programme of business support under the Enterprise Norfolk initiative.
Meanwhile, council workers have been awarded a 10pc pay rise from April. Staff have had a pay freeze imposed for three of the last four years, with a 1pc rise awarded in 2010/11 and a £250 lump sum after the council exceeded savings targets.