LOWER parking charges and a freeze on council tax were among the budget proposals rubberstamped by Wychavon District Council’s cabinet this week.
At a meeting of the full council on Tuesday the budget for 2013/14 was decided with councillors expressing their disappointment at a less than generous settlement.
Councillor Bob Banks presented the budget suggesting freezing council tax at £108.44 and a £150,000 community flood initiative programme to be delivered over three years from year two of the New Homes Bonus funding.
He said the budget process for 2013/14 had not been as straightforward as in recent years. “We had the drama of a late settlement following a delayed Autumn Statement,” he said. “But perhaps more significantly, we were disappointed the settlement was not a little more generous to the Council.
“Not only had local government been promised a break in 2013/14, there had also been a strong indication there would be fairer funding for rural councils.
“The final settlement has confirmed neither of these have come true. We therefore must face the prospect of more difficult choices over the next two years.”
Despite his concerns he added the council had healthy balances but would use around £674,000 from general reserves during 2013/14.
One of the major proposals will see charges at Wychavon car parks cut from £6 to £4 per day, with season tickets reduced from £600 down to £400. Monthly tickets will also go from £60 to £40.
Other proposals included supporting at least 130 more business by March 2015 through start up grants and advice, giving 100 scholarships to students at the University of Worcester over the next three years and working with South Worcestershire College to set up an engineering training centre.
They also hope to reduce the number of homeless people in bed and breakfast accommodation by 50 percent, set up at least on Community Land Trust and deliver the connecting with communities programme of visits in at least 25 of the 32 wards.
Coun Banks added: “We are fortunate to have healthy balances which allow us this flexibility and the ability to make important decisions properly rather than in a hurried manner. Not only this, but we are also supporting our more vulnerable residents.”
Wychavon District Council is responsible for around eight per cent of the overall council tax bill, with the rest going to the county council, police and fire services, which have all been frozen as well.