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Budget: ‘No silver bullet’
PLANS to raise car parking charges, increase council tax by nearly two per cent and reduce street cleaning are under consultation.
Worcester City Council’s Labour leadership says it is “in a listening mood” – and wants to hear views on the draft 2014/15 budget.
Councillor Richard Boorn, member for finance, warned at a city council meeting that there was “no silver bullet” to solve the financial problems. But he pledged to listen to alternative ideas for saving cash, with £974,000 needing to be cut.
Unprecedented reductions in Government funding means that more than £4 million is likely to be cut from spending by 2019.
“People need to understand that if they moan about things in the budget they don’t like, that is absolutely fine, but they can’t just say, ‘We don’t like it’, because we need to have an alternative,” said Coun Boorn. “If something is a good idea and helps this city, we will look at it – we need more consensual politics. I will take a great interest in what people say because we want a budget everyone can support.”
As your Worcester News revealed two weeks ago, the budget includes increasing garden waste charges by £10 to £47 a year; raising adult cremation costs from £610 to £700, and scrapping the 30-minute parking tariff and the £1 evening rate.
Four-hour stays at parks in Copenhagen Street, Cornmarket and Providence Street will also go up, from £5 to £6.
Coun Geoff Williams, the deputy leader and cabinet member for economic prosperity, defended the car park rises. A poll of 500 respondents, he said, suggested 62 per cent thought it was value for money and 67 per cent said the rises would not result in them parking elsewhere.
A proposed 1.9 per cent council tax increase in April would add just £3.23 to the yearly £1,453 average band D bill because the city council is responsible for 11 per cent of the bill. It would be the first rise since 2010, after being frozen for three successive years by the previous Tory administration.
The budget includes a pledge to ring-fence £1.3 million of New Homes Bonus cash awarded by the Government in recognition of how many homes are built.
It will be split three ways - with a third going towards new affordable housing, a third towards regeneration, and the rest towards any measures deemed to boost the economy.
The budget will be finalised in February.