Council agrees tax rise of five per cent

Blackpool Council has raised council tax by 4.99 per cent
Blackpool Council has raised council tax by 4.99 per cent
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Blackpool’s ruling Labour council voted to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent last night in a move which will see average Band D bills rise from the current level of £1,585 to £1,656.

The figure also includes precepts to pay for the police and fire service.

There is a 1.99 per cent increase in the precept to pay for policing, which works out at £165 for a Band D property, and no increase in the fire service precept which is £65 for a Band D property.

The increase also includes a three per cent precept to pay for adult social care.

Budget cuts of £18.7m were approved, with net expenditure of just over £120m.

But council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said “an ambitious programme of development and investment” would “set the town on a steady financial course for the next decade.”

This includes increasing the business loan fund from £10m to £100m.

Coun Blackburn said while Blackpool had been “starved of over £450m in the last seven years” due to government cuts, the council’s medium term strategy demonstrated it had “weathered the worst of the storm.”

He added future budgets would be “much less vicious” and predicted the council would be back to a steady financial state by 2019/20.

And he told the meeting despite the cuts “our Surestart Centres remain, our libraries remain, our leisure centres remain, our swimming pools remain, our public parks remain.”

But Labour came under fire from the Tories who claimed the controlling group had mismanaged 
spending.

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said: “You cannot continue to blame every financial challenge on someone else’s fault when you yourselves are so guilty of wasting so much of Blackpool’s residents’ money on badly managed projects or follies.

“Millions could have been saved with strong management and better decisions, and while these vast sums would not have saved all these jobs, they could have 
helped.”

Coun Williams said debts of half a million pounds a year had had to be written off, and around £5m a year was being paid in interest on loans.

Coun Maxine Callow added £150,000 had been wasted created a car park on Devonshire Road which had not been used, while a gym in the council’s Bickerstaffe House had closed with a £90,000 loss.

The recommendation to approve the budget and council tax for the coming financial year was agreed by 26 votes to 12 against, with one abstention following a recorded 
vote.

Read more about the council budget here