Council tax rises as budget proposals approved

People in Wakefield will see their council tax bill rise by 3.99 per cent from April.

By David Spereall
Thursday, 28th February 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th February 2019, 12:42 pm
The budget was passed at a full council meeting on Wednesday.
The budget was passed at a full council meeting on Wednesday.

It comes after the local authority passed a new budget for the coming financial year, which includes the introduction of Sunday parking charges and big changes to bin collections.

The increase includes a one per cent hike in the social care precept.

The ruling Labour party said that the rises were necessary to meet a "black hole" in its funding from central government, as it faces a £22.2million budget shortfall.

Sunday parking charges will be brought in at Newmillerdam Country Park

The council will also cut the funding it's given to The Hepworth Gallery, which it has been supporting since it opened.

Changing bin rounds will save around £40,000 but the council insists that the frequency of collections will remain the same for everyone.

Sunday parking charges at Newmillerdam Country Park will also be brought in to balance the books and are expected to generate as much as £70,000 in extra income over the next 12 months.

At a full council meeting on Wednesday, council leader Peter Box said that Labour was committed to "helping those whose lives were blighted" by cutbacks to frontline services.

Council leader Peter Box said that "tough decisions" had to be made.

He said: "Our robust and effective financial management has enabled us to deliver a balanced budget through years of austerity, but once again we are forced to make some tough decisions.

"Our budget challenge in 2019/20 is £22.2 million.

"That’s made up of a significant increase in the demand for services for both adults and children, rising costs and further government cuts to council funding.

"Our proposals for responding to this challenge have been shaped by our residents with several hundred of them sharing their views with us.

Bin collections will be altered.

He added: "In 2010 there were three foodbanks in Wakefield - there are now 19."

A shadow budget produced by the Conservatives was voted down.

They had proposed introducing limited free parking to help "stimulate" the city and town centres, as well as slashing payments to trade union representatives and reducing the frequency of local elections.

They also wanted to accelerate the funding cuts to The Hepworth.

Conservative group leader Nadeem Ahmed said his proposals put "people's priorities first".

Group leader Nadeem Ahmed said their ideas were "fully costed" and would deliver what the district's residents wanted.

He said: "Our budget takes action on people's priorities and it's good for business.

"Our town and city centres are under massive pressure. Free parking won't go all the way to alleviating those pressures, but it will go some way towards it.

"Our trade union proposal is not political. I say that as a member of two trade unions - it's not the duty of the council to be paying them.

"Labour is putting trade unions ahead of the people," he added.

The policing precept, which also appears on council tax bills, will also rise by an average of £24 per year from April.

Funding for the Hepworth Gallery will be slashed. The Conservatives had wanted this to be accelerated.

That rise was approved by the region's Police and Crime Panel on February 1.