Council tax freeze for Chesterfield residents

Council tax rates are set to be frozen by Chesterfield Borough Council to help hard pressed families.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 13th February 2014, 9:36 am
breaking news
breaking news

The move comes despite the council facing the largest spending power reduction of any local authority in England in 2014/15 - a 6.9 per cent cut.

At the same time several councils in the south have seen their spending power increase, with Uttlesford District Council in Essex getting a 4.9 per cent rise.

Chesterfield residents are being warned the worst impacts of the Government cuts to council services are still to be felt, particularly on those in non essential areas.

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Chesterfield Borough Council has already made £2.4 million of savings since the Coalition Government came to power which equates to a cut of 27.5 per cent. In 2014/15 it needs to make another £1 million of reductions.

Councillor John Burrows, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “We know how hard residents are struggling at the moment and by careful management of our budgets we have been able to freeze council tax and avoid announcing major job losses like many councils have had to.

“But I wouldn’t want that to mask the impact of the cuts we have to make this year or the fact that far worse is to come in the next few years.

“All the easy pickings went a long time ago. We are now talking about cuts that directly impact on the lives of residents.

“We also need the public to recognise that while we continue to provide essential services like rubbish collection and street cleaning, we cannot continue to do everything people might have expected of us in the past, particularly in areas where we do not legally have to provide a service.”

In 2010/11 the council received an £8.7 million grant from the Government but in 2014/15 that will fall to £6.3 million before dropping to £5.3 million in 2015/16 and £4.3 million in 2016/17.

The council is prioritising the money it does have on work to grow the local economy and create jobs, continue providing those services that most impact on people’s lives and ensuring services provide value for money. This will include introducing more efficient ways of delivering services, particularly through greater use of IT.

The council’s cabinet will meet on 18 February to discuss the budget and is being recommended to ask the full council to retain council tax rates at their current level when it meets on 27 February.

But to achieve the necessary savings in 2014/15 it is planned to:

Carry out restructures and efficiency reviews of many of the council’s Town Hall based back office services but also the council’s theatres, CCTV, museum and grounds maintenance services to make savings of £350,700

Consider charging for entry to the annual fireworks display to reduce the costs by £10,000

Cancel the community arts festival and reduce spending on all other festivals or events, including Christmas lights to save £30,500

Cut grants to partner organisations and community groups by £30,500, with the community groups instead being invited to apply for Community Chest funding

Increase charges for pest control and cemeteries to generate £61,000 of additional income following other recent increases in charges for sports facilities, theatres, markets and some car parks

Seek voluntary redundancies or voluntary early retirements to save £250,000

Review the terms and conditions of staff to save £100,000

Not fill some vacant posts to save £86,600

Although Chesterfield Borough Council sends out council tax bills to its residents only 10 per cent of the total amount paid goes to the council.

The rest is collected on behalf of different authorities with:

74 per cent of the total bill going to Derbyshire County Council to pay for services including education, roads and social services

11 per cent going to Derbyshire Police

5 per cent going to Derbyshire Fire and Rescue

Chesterfield Borough Council uses its funding to pay for the day-to-day running cost of services including refuse collection, street cleaning, leisure and park facilities, regeneration, housing, markets, theatres and tourism.