Brentwood Council budget boast: Tax going down, spending goes up
There was a rare moment of near total agreement at Brentwood Town Hall on Tuesday as all but one councillor backed budget plans for the new financial year.
Despite a reduction in its funding from the government by 14 per cent, the Conservative administration had proposed a 2.1 per cent cut in Brentwood’s portion of council tax and an extra �350,000 extra spending on services.
The cut means that an average band D property will see their charge reduced by �3.76 a year.
But residents’ bills won’t actually go down because the reduction isn’t as much as the increase being levied by the Essex Police Authority – a �4.59 rise a year for a band D property – as reported in last week’s Recorder.
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Brentwood Council’s extra investment from April will include �200,000 for youth services, events and for checks on housing management organisations, and �60,000 towards tree cutting and bulky waste collection.
Council leader Cllr Louise McKinlay said: “I’m very proud that, in these difficult times, we are one of only a handful of councils across the country that are cutting the tax bill, and proud it hasn’t meant reduced services for residents.
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“Brentwood is a beacon in proving that making savings doesn’t mean making service cuts.”
At the meeting, the opposition Liberal Democrats proposed a cut in councillors’ allowances and money for new CCTV, but both ideas were rejected.
The group then voted with the administration on the budget, leaving Labour’s Mike Le-Surf (Brentwood South) as the only member to oppose it.
After the meeting he said: “The Lib Dems have joined the coalition at a local level and I am now the sole opposition to a council that almost sold off our town hall last year.
“The Lib Dems have sold out to the coalition nationally and now locally.”
Lib Dem leader Cllr David Kendall said: “We looked at the details and saw that it was going to mean a reduction in council tax and investment in some areas we wanted it in, so we voted for what we thought was in the best interests of residents.
“It’s the first time in my years on the council that I’ve voted for a Tory budget.”
He added: “We also made suggestions for what else we thought should be in it, unlike the Labour Party.”