Full council to decide on budget including free parking changes, road improvements and council tax rise tonight
- Credit: Archant
Councillors will tonight decide on plans for a final budget for the next year, at a full council meeting at Havering Town Hall.
A rise in council tax, improvements in street cleaning and road repairs, along with investment in better leisure facilities and school places are all part of the council’s proposed budget which will be discussed tonight (Wednesday, February 27).
If approved, proposals will also see nearly £150 million pumped into building “more genuinely affordable housing” and other neighbourhood improvements.
Council tax is proposed to rise by 3.25 per cent, the bulk of which will be used to meet rising costs of providing care and support for residents who are more vulnerable which includes senior citizens, people with disabilities and young people who are deemed at risk.
The rise is lower than the maximum 4.99% allowed by Government which many councils in the UK are expected to adopt.
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It will mean that Havering’s share of council tax for the average Band D property will increase by less than £1 a week from £1363.83 to £1408.15.
Other budget proposals include more than £10 million a year to improve roads and pavements, an extra £400,000 for street cleaning, £18.8 million for more school places, £11.9 million to improve leisure facilities (including a new leisure centre in Hornchurch) and £250,000 to be spent on CCTV.
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One of the most heavily contested proposals is to scrap 30 minutes of free car parking in Upminster and Hornchurch.
The council has suggested the changes are in a bid to save money, and also to bring Upminster and Hornchurch town centres in line with Romford town centre parking charges.
Residents and shop owners are set to take part in a peaceful protest at 6.45 prior to the meeting, which is due to begin at 7.30pm.
A petition against these changes has been signed nearly 10,000 times, and will be presented at the meeting tonight.
The leader of the council, Councillor Damian White said: “This is a budget that responds to and acts on the issues that matter to our community the most.
“It is a budget that will see major improvements in roads, pavements and street cleaning while continuing to invest in services for people who are more vulnerable.
“It is an ambitious budget that will bring significant improvements to all parts of the borough with investment in neighbourhoods, job creation and more genuinely affordable housing.
“If approved by full council on February 27, the budget will see £13.2 million saved in 2019/20 rising to a total of £40.4 million by 2022/23 in order to balance the budget.
“The council is becoming more efficient in the way that it delivers services to reduce costs and keep council tax increases to the minimum.”