Council tax freeze proposed by Mid Sussex District Council for fourth year

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Mid Sussex District Council is proposing to freeze its share of Council Tax for the fourth year in a row as part of its 2014/15 Budget.

The Mid Sussex Draft Corporate Plan and Budget 2014/15 was discussed by the Scrutiny Committee for Leader and Service Delivery on Wednesday January 15, 2014.

The continuing squeeze on Local Government finance means Mid Sussex District Council must find £532,000 in savings to plug the gap in its budget for 2014/15.

The Council has proposed a number of cost saving measures that will protect frontline services, it states.

Parking and green waste collection charges will not be increased and Council Tax will be frozen for fourth year.

Having delivered £5.5 million in efficiency savings in recent years, Mid Sussex District Council plans to make the necessary savings and protect frontline services.

The Council has continued to maintain tight controls over costs and looked at new, more cost effective, ways of delivering services and directing resources where most needed.

A significant saving comes from re-letting a major contract for ground maintenance which will save £128,000 per year.

“Our grant funding from Central Government is reduced each year and the challenge for us is to provide our services with the reduced resources we have available,” said Garry Wall, leader of Mid Sussex District Council. “It is becoming increasingly challenging to find savings but, just like in previous years, we have found new and efficient ways to deliver our services, making them more effective and providing residents with more for less.

“As well as making savings we are planning to deliver new and innovative projects that will improve services for local residents.

“We have started work on a new refuse and recycling depot at Bridge Road in Haywards Heath, we are working in partnership to regenerate Mid Sussex town centres and stations, and we have made improvements to our reception area to provide a better service for visitors.

“We’re also planning to work with our partners this year to create a cycle route to link the South Downs National Park with Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath.

“Work will soon be starting on our business starter units that will help new and small businesses in the area to grow and we will look to improve recycling in the District by rolling out a successful pilot project.

Jonathan Ash-Edwards, cabinet member for Finance and Service Delivery added: “We know that many of our residents continue to be under pressure financially, especially those on low incomes, so we are proposing to freeze Council Tax again this year.

“For many residents, Council Tax is a large monthly bill and freezing it for the fourth time will keep money in residents’ pockets.”

West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West) has also pledged to not increase County Hall’s share of the rate over the coming year.

However, the office of Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has stated 67 per cent of respondents to a recent survey supported a rise in the policing part of local Council Tax.

Mrs Bourne said: “I am pleased with the results of the public consultation. I have a statutory obligation to set the police budget and that is why I sought the views of Sussex taxpayers regarding a potential increase of £4.95 per year per band D household. The increase would go towards reducing serious sexual offending and tackling child exploitation, strengthening the fight against cyber crime and increasing the visibility of frontline policing.

“I fulfilled my election pledge to freeze the precept in my first year of office and, as a result, residents have paid the same amount for policing in Sussex for the last four years. However, as a voice for local people on policing and crime it was very important that I knew if Sussex residents were willing to pay a little extra in order to enable further investment and ensure Sussex Police is sufficiently resourced to meet future challenges.”

The Commissioner is duty bound to inform the Police and Crime Panel of her considerations. The results of the proposed precept will be reviewed by the panel on Friday 24 January.

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