Council tax freeze for Norwich?

City Hall leaders are weighing up whether to freeze council tax for people in Norwich - or whether to up the city council's share of the tax by 3.5pc.

Norwich City Council's ruling Labour cabinet will meet next week to decide its preferred level of council tax for the next financial year.

Two options are on the table to fund the �20.7m general budget for 2012/13 - the first of which is to freeze council tax.

Under a one-off grant scheme being offered by the government that would mean City Hall would be handed just over �230,000.

But the other option being considered is to increase the city council's share of the council tax by 3.5pc.

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That would see City Hall's share of the council tax bill increase from �225.87 to �233.77 for a Band D property in the city - just under �8.

Council tax bills for people in Norwich are made up of portions which go to the city council, Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Police Authority.

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The county council has already announced that it will not be increasing its share of the council tax this year, while Norfolk Police Authority will decide later this month.

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said with the council needing to make �4.6m of savings in 2012/13, these were tough economic times.

She said if the council tax was frozen and the government grant taken, it would mean the council would be given �230,000 for next year, but the authority would then be left with a shortfall for subsequent years.

But, with the council having already consulted over future cuts, on the assumption that council tax will not be increased, the cabinet may decide it has a moral obligation not to increase council tax bills.

Savings which were identified through that consultation - called Your Services, Your Say - included some public toilets closing, the cutting of grass verges scaled back, tree planting suspended, Christmas lighting reduced and higher charges for burials and allotments.

For the next year, Ms Arthur said the council was trying to do the best it could with limited resources, including trying to get re-let times for council housing down to 22 days, to get 50pc of domestic waste recycled or composted and to get 499 new homes built in Norwich.

She said: 'Clearly, as the government continues to penalise local authorities, it is an increasing challenge. 'But the money that we do have, we are going to spend as efficiently as we can to get the best possible value for the city.

'It is always our aspiration to build more houses and we are trying to find ways to work in partnership with others to do that.'

Under the budget plans, rents for council homes are also set to increase, with the council having to plump for one of three options - an increase of 8.37pc (an average of �5.62 a week), 6.85pc (an average of �4.60 a week) or an increase of 5.33pc (an average of �3.58 a week).

The city council cabinet will decide next Wednesday what council tax increase to recommend to full council, with a final decision due on Tuesday, February 21.

The Evening News reported last week how �2.019m of council tax in the city had not been collected, although the council said it did expect to recover 93pc of that sum.

• Do you have a story about a local council? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email

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