Council tax freeze boost for residents

St Annes Town Hall

St Annes Town Hall

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Residents are set to be in line for a cash boost after plans to freeze council tax were revealed.

Homeowners in Fylde will pay the same rates for the fifth consecutive year under proposals by finance chief Coun Karen Buckley.

Coun Karen Buckley'Fylde Council

Coun Karen Buckley'Fylde Council

The borough’s budget is now out for consultation and includes a freeze in council tax, a freeze in special expenses across Lytham and St Annes – which covers upkeep of parks and open spaces – and a living wage as a minimum for all council employees.

The move is set to be discussed today from 6.15pm at Fylde Town Hall.

Coun Buckley said: “Over the last few years the focus has been on driving efficiencies, sharing back-office services, and re-structuring to deliver the very best for our residents.

“Everyone has stepped up to the plate and officers are asked to approach spending by thinking ‘what would I do if it was my own money?’

“The result is that budgets are right-sized, money is saved and can be reinvested in the borough.”

Fylde Council has aimed to reduce its borrowings in recent years while savings each year have been put into a reserve to spend on capital projects.

Coun Buckley added: “As a result of prudent housekeeping, the capital investment proposed in the budget this year will see £460,000 go towards two street sweepers, two transit vans, as well as several other vehicles, with more public realm improvements for Woodlands Road in Ansdell and in Kirkham. Schemes of improvement are also budgeted for St Annes, Lytham and Staining.

“Lytham Park Cemetery is to have a new memorial garden, Fairhaven Lake will see a new toddler’s play area and an amount of £50,000 is proposed for Freckleton’s Memorial Park to commemorate the Freckleton Air Disaster of 1944.

“A new roof for Lowther Pavilion is also included in the budget.”

Other projects include the expansion of the residents’ car-parking pass which covers the council’s long-stay car parks and, from April 2015, will include early morning and late afternoon parking in the town centre, all for £25 per year.

But Fylde Liberal Democrat party leader Coun Howard Henshaw said he thought the tax freeze was a “gimmick” in the build-up to May’s general election.

He added: “It is just a run-up to the election. All politicians – Prime Minister David Cameron included – are trying to win votes.

“I just worry what services will suffer as a result of the tax freeze.”

The Gazette has previously reported that Blackpool Council is also proposing a freeze on council tax next year,