Taunton Deane pledge no redundancies, council tax freeze and growth in annual budget

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Somerset County Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

NO redundancies, council tax freeze, regeneration and growth – those are the pledges from Taunton Deane Council ahead of their annual budget meeting next month.

The Deane propose to invest more than £19million in council homes to include 118 homes across two phases of work with Knightstone Housing Association which will see 87 at Creechbarrow Road plus 31 elsewhere, along with improvements to existing council homes.

If approved by Full Council on February 26, council tax would freeze for the third-successive year meaning a Band D property would remain at £135.19 per year.

Rents for all 6,000 council homes are set to rise by 4.9% to bring costs closer in line with registered social landlords which means average weekly rent will change from £73.60 to £77.21.

The Deane’s net budget has reduced from £11.9million to £11.5million – this includes a 5.4% drop in Government funding– but they say it is likely there will be a further 12.7% fall in central funding for 2014/15.

But leader of the council, Cllr John Williams said, despite the challenging economic climate, he is proud to present a positive budget.

He added: “We are not standing still and we are using our scarce resources to focus on planning and investing for the future to create economic development to help our community.

“It is also an historic occasion that we are again investing in affordable council housing. This will help address the number we have lost to right-to-buy houses and bring it back to balance and increase social housing stock for the community.

“We are no different from other councils across the country who are having to make cuts because our funding is being reduced from Government.”

Major projects for 2013/14 include a £1million loan to Somerset County Cricket Club to develop their ground including a media centre so the club can host international matches; £1.27million refurbishment of the swimming pool on Station Road;and £1/£2million repairs to lifts and lobby areas at the Orchard Shopping Centre multi-storey car park.

The council are also injecting around £2.4million as a start-up fund set aside for growth and regeneration with schemes such as flood prevention, improvements to transport infrastructure and business development.

The Deane has also invested £35,000 in extra weed control and £16,000 to help people affected by extreme weather.

The day-to-day revenue budget would see £91,000 allocated to help people cope with changes to the welfare benefits system being introduced by central Government.

Note: The proposed freeze relates only to the Taunton Deane Council precept of the overall Council Tax bill.

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