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Preston council tax rise planned – as digital strategy unlocks more savings

Posted on - 30th January, 2018 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News
A glimmer on the windows of Preston Town Hall Pic: Tony Worrall
A glimmer on the windows of Preston Town Hall Pic: Tony Worrall

Prestonians are to see their council tax bill rise by nearly 3 per cent from April.

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Preston City Council wants to raise their portion of the charge for a Band D property to £305.37.

Proposals to the cabinet show the council expects to find £1.5million savings in the next 12 months – £100,000 more than previously planned.

The city council says a focus on ‘digital strategy’ will bring it an additional £60,000 saving this year.

Moving the Fulwood and West View leisure centres to be run by Greenwich Leisure Limited in May last year has netted the council a saving of around £700,000.

New technology in its contact centre and restructuring its communications team has also saved the council £300,000 in the last year.

The man responsible for balancing the city council’s books has defended the council tax rise.

Read more: Council transfers land near West View to GLL

Cabinet member for finance and resources councillor Martyn Rawlinson said: “As we enter the final year of direct grant funding to councils from central government, the cabinet will recommend to budget council a council tax rise of 2.99 per cent.

“Preston’s grant from government will reduce to nil next year from a figure of £18million in 2011. Even the Conservative Chair of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, has said that councils have no choice to raise council tax given government policy.

“Our budget this year is utilising more reserves and instigating more efficiency savings from digital technology to help bridge the funding gap. Local government is the most efficient and effective part of the public sector and Preston Council is leading the way delivering inclusive economic growth, fairness policies and vital services that the people of Preston deserve.

“Preston’s council tax is still good value for money. At an average of around £6 per week, the council maintains and improves thousands of hectares of public green space, cleans thousands of miles of streets, collects hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste, provides homelessness, debt and benefits advice services that keep people off the streets, plus many other regulatory, planning, community and public health functions.

“We have found sustainable solutions for expensive assets like Preston Bus Station, Preston Guild Hall, the old Post Office and Fulwood and West View Leisure Centres. We have rescued Preston Market and re-invented it under the amazing Victorian canopies. We have won massive amounts of lottery funding for our parks and public spaces and continue to work on the sustainability of the Harris Museum.

“Our vision of a thriving city with fairness at the heart of everything we do is only possible if we balance the budget and council tax payers can play their part in the delivery of these plans.”

Read more: Preston wins ‘council of the year’ for its economic model

Councillors in the cabinet will discuss the proposals on Wednesday (31 January) before they go to a full council meeting in February.

What do you think of the proposed council tax rise? Let us know in the comments below

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