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Havering Council approves budget which will see council tax increase

PUBLISHED: 07:21 26 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:08 26 February 2015

Havering Town Hall

Havering Town Hall

Archant

Cuts to services and an increase in council tax were given the green light as Havering Council passed its budget on Wednesday.

Councillors met to discuss amendments to the financial plan, which includes reductions in the funding of libraries, youth services, car parking and Queen’s Theatre.

Council leader, Cllr Roger Ramsey, said: “This journey of the budget started back in July.

“We have listened to the consultations on libraries, parking and Queen’s Theatre.

“Where alternatives have been suggested we have taken them on board and where they can be amended we have amended them.”

At the start of the process the authority said £60 million of savings would need to be found over a four year period, a figure later reduced to £45m.

The first round of savings, rubber stamped on Wednesday, approved £17.2m of cuts.

Following a public consultation, Upminster Library in Corbets Tey Road – which had been earmarked to have its hours slashed in half – will now retain 50 hours a week opening times.

As a result, several others will have their opening times reduced to 24 hours a week.

Queen’s Theatre in Billet Lane, Hornchurch, has now been given three years, instead of the initial two, to deal with the required savings of £200,000.

With Havering having recorded the highest influx of young residents of any London borough over the past five years, the youth service has also been granted a reprieve.

Cuts will not be as severe as first proposed. Myplace and the Robert Beard Youth House will be safe and the council will support a staff suggestion for an employee-led mutual called a Youth Trust, which will include management savings.

The council also voted on the council tax in Havering, which has not seen a rise since 2009.

Members of the Independent Residents’ Group proposed an increase of 3 per cent, which would require a referendum at a cost £250,000 to the taxpayers.

Cllr Jeff Tucker, of the Independent Residents’ Group, called the increase a “win win situation” as it would mean an extra £1m for the budget and residents would benefit from the additional services it would provide.

However, the increase was shot down by 36 votes to four in the council chamber and a council tax increase of 1.993pc was agreed for 2015/16.

This falls just below the 2pc limit that would mean a referendum must be called.


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