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WDC freezes council tax for fourth consecutive year
A COUNCIL has frozen council tax for a fourth consecutive year.
Wycombe District Council approved the freeze and a "balanced budget" for 2014/15 at its Full Council meeting on Thursday night.
The average Band D household will continue to pay £126.99 a year to the district - but residents will see a rise overall after Buckinghamshire County Council and Thames Valley Police increased their council tax.
Cllr Mel Foster, WDC’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: "Despite Government funding cuts and the inexorable rise in costs faced by the council, we have been able to develop a balanced budget and crucially, propose to do so without any increase in the district’s council tax.
"This will represent the fourth year the council has been able to implement a zero increase while maintaining or improving core services, which demonstrates our commitment to resist council tax increases.
"It also shows our determination to deliver best value for the residents and businesses of the district and demonstrates the hard work of officers to continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of services."
There have been "positive signs of recovery" within the district with an increase of businesses and residential developments but "employment has yet to show the gains evident across the UK", Cllr Foster said.
He pointed out £1.3m of ‘transformation savings’, including the joint waste contract, and pledged a further £700,000 over the next two years.
But despite the government slashing the council’s formula grant by 13.4 percent and cutting other funding, Cllr Foster said WDC was committed to the Handy Cross Hub project and regenerating High Wycombe town centre.
The opposition - the Liberal Democrats - proposed amendments to the budget which asked for £750,000 to boost the council's affordable homes project.
Cllr Simon Parker, Lib Dem group leader, also urged WDC to offer £100,000 to the Buckinghamshire Community Bank.
But the recommendations were rejected, with WDC’s Conservative Leader Cllr Richard Scott saying the community bank needed more people to take up its offer rather than additional funding to support it.
Cllr Foster added the money the Lib Dems had identified for the affordable housing scheme was not required as the council expected a further £800,000 from the sale of council properties in Benjamin Road.
He also rejected Cllr Julia Wassell claims WDC was "withering away" and the two-tier system needed to be replaced by a unitary authority.
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