Waveney council tax fixed

A district council has pledged to post its lowest council tax increase in five years, despite having to deal with an overspent budget of more than half a million pounds.

A district council has pledged to post its lowest council tax increase in five years, despite having to deal with an overspent budget of more than half a million pounds.

Waveney's share of the tax is likely to increase by 2.5pc in a package being put together by finance bosses, who have also been forced to seek efficiency savings in departments across the local authority.

Despite the projected £557,000 overspend in the Tory-run council's budget, leader Mark Bee said he was determined to oversee a continuation in Waveney's reputation as a low tax authority, while ensuring frontline services were not cut.

With Suffolk County Council already proposing a 4.5pc increase and the police authority expected to push through a 5pc hike, band D taxpayers in Waveney would have to pay an extra £53.43 a year, before parish and town councils take their share.

Mr Bee said: “We'll be delivering a 2.5pc increase in council tax this year, which is the lowest increase for the past five years. We'll be able to bring in a within inflation increase, which is below the county council and the police authority.”

The proposals will be voted on during a meeting of Waveney councillors on March 1, but last week members heard of the authority's battle to get its budget back on track.

Most Read

Departmental heads have come up with savings of £264,000, some of which will go towards offsetting the £557,000 overspend along with money from the council's reserves and a grant expected to be announced within weeks.

Mr Bee added: “It could have been a lot worse and we'll be able to balance the books by the end of the year. Managers have been asked to look at efficiencies, but there are no service cuts.”

The most negative impact on the council's budget has been a £210,000 shortfall in income from car parking fees, largely put down to ongoing roadworks in Lowestoft keeping shoppers away. There has also been an overspend of £49,000 on the legal budget for the North Denes and Southwold caravan parks, which the council has been negotiating to offload.

The budget for the disposal of trade waste is expected to soar £70,000 above budget because of rising fuel costs and the hire of additional freighters, while a new electronic system to scan all documentation coming into the council is also likely to be £50,000 overspent by the end of the year.

At the end of last year, Waveney announced radical plans to transform the way it operates, which could see key services being handed over to private companies or managed jointly with other local authorities. The proposals, which are still under consultation, would reinforce Waveney's position as an enabling authority.

Sally Spore, leader of the opposition Labour party on Waveney District Council, said members of her group would receive a briefing about the current budget situation from the authority's officers this week.

On the pledge to keep council tax low, she added: “Perhaps they might want to consult with the electorate to make sure this is what they want. Are they sure this is what the electorate wants or is this just their position as a Conservative administration?”