Friday, February 26, 2016
Good news for residents in Council budget
West Lancashire Borough Council is announcing good news for residents as Councillors agreed important new measures whilst maintaining service levels for the vast majority of the services it provides.
The decisions were made at the Council meeting on 24 February 2016, when members met to agree the budget for the 2016/17 financial year.
In preparing the budget the Council has been creative and worked hard to maximise efficiency and income, and to avoid service reductions.
An important outcome from the meeting was the Council agreeing to use £2.3 million from its reserves to create a new Strategic Investment Reserve (SIR). This can be used to finance major new economic regeneration initiatives and support the implementation of the new Leisure Strategy.
A new management structure, which will save the Council £104,000 per year, was also approved.
In addition to this, the Council has entered into a partnership agreement with other Lancashire authorities which will help increase the revenue from business rates. The authority’s investment in solar panels on its properties will also bring in £60,000 extra income.
Other key budget decisions include:
- £85,000 towards the second phase of the Chapel Gallery refurbishment (£60,000 of this will come from an Arts Council grant)
- £15,000 to add new facilities to Richmond Park changing rooms
- Freezing councillors’ allowances
- Freezing car parking charges for the fifth year running
Improving the health and wellbeing of West Lancashire people is a top priority for the Council. To achieve this aim the Council will employ a Health Strategy Manager who will examine how the Council can contribute to reducing health inequalities across the Borough. To back this up, a new £100,000 Health and Wellbeing fund has been created to attract match funding for health initiatives within West Lancashire.
Another health and leisure initiative will see the Council providing £3,000 towards the cost of new inflatables for five Aqua Fun sessions per week during the school summer holidays at both Park Pool, Ormskirk, and Nye Bevan Pool, Skelmersdale. Working in partnership with West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, the Aqua Fun Session prices will be reduced from £1.90 to £1.
To help achieve all of this the Council is planning to increase Council Tax by 1.75%, the first rise by the authority for seven years. The rise equates to an increase of six pence per week on Band D properties.
Councillor Chris Wynn, portfolio holder for Finance, said: “The increase in Council Tax represents good value for money as the Council will use this extra revenue to maintain the services we provide.
“The government is reducing our funding and many costs are rising. But we are maintaining the current frontline services that are so important to local people without making any staff redundant, and these budget proposals will have a minimal impact on residents.”
The Council has recently consulted on a series of savings and income proposals. The authority has listened to people’s views on these options and agreed a package of savings next year that will be worth £174,000 and which will have only a minor impact on services. It was also agreed to consult on making savings by moving towards a seasonal green waste collection service that operates 34 weeks per year.
The Council Tax paid to West Lancs Borough Council for Borough Council services for the average Band D property in 2016/17 will be £186.76 per year – £3.59 a week.
Just under 12% of the Council Rax bill comes to the Borough Council. The total council tax includes charges from Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Constabulary. The Council Tax for some areas will also include a parish council precept.
The bills for ‘average’ Band D properties (excluding parish council precepts) are set out below. Most properties within West Lancs are in Bands A-C and so the majority of householders will pay less than the figures stated below.
2015/16 2016/17 Change
West Lancs Borough Council £183.55 £186.76 1.75%
Lancs County Council £1,129.78 £1,174.86 3.99%
Lancs Combined Fire Authority £64.86 £65.50 0.99%
Lancs Police Authority £159.06 £162.22 1.99%
Total £1,537.25 £1,589.34 3.39%