St Edmundsbury approves 2015-16 budget but freezes council tax

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A borough council has voted to continue freezing council tax, while approving cuts for 2015-16 to bridge a £1.5 million budget gap.

On Tuesday, St Edmundsbury’s full council approved a zero per cent increase on council tax for the sixth time in seven years.

The move, however, was criticised by Cllr Julia Wakelam who said she did not think it was ‘prudent’.

By not raising the tax in line with inflation, she said the council could end up in a worse financial position than if it had gradually pushed the tax up, ultimately having a bigger impact on services.

She said it was doing a ‘disservice’ to council tax payers who understood ‘things have gone up’ and need to be paid for.

The council also approved its recommended 2015-16 budget, which Mrs Wakelam criticised for failing to include funds for the provision of affordable homes.

A council spokesman said, after the meeting, that £3 million had been allocated for a ‘housing strategy’ that would include some affordable housing.

The budget passed included £135,000 of savings from changes to brown bin collections from March 9.

Letters have been sent to around 17,000 households in Bury St Edmunds that will be affected by the changes.

Cllr Peter Stevens, cabinet member for waste and property, said: “Through the rationalising of our routes, we will be able to collect people’s brown bins just as regularly and proficiently as before, but with one less vehicle on the road. It is the cost associated to the vehicle that will then achieve the £135,000 saving each year.

“Every saving has a collective impact on helping secure core services or maintaining council tax levels are either frozen or increases are minimal.”

For more details, visit www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/brownbinchanges/