Town hall bosses will not hike up bill

Blackpool Town Hall.
Blackpool Town Hall.
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Householders in Blackpool will see their bills for council services remain unchanged for the fourth year in a row after councillors last night agreed to freeze the town hall’s portion of the charge.

It means someone living in an average Band D property will pay £1,306 for council services.

However their final bills will also include £63.65 for the fire service, also unchanged from last year, and £155.96 for the police, up by £3 from last year.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said it would have been wrong to increase council tax bills at a time when spending cuts meant services were being reduced.

He said: “We look at the arguments every year and we have to take each year on its merits.

“We are in a specific set of circumstances where we are taking big chunks out of the budget, and so we cannot justify putting the council tax up when we are being forced to reduce services.”

Coun Blackburn, who is vice-chairman of the police and crime panel for Lancashire, added he was disappointed police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw had opted to increase the police portion of the council tax by 1.99 per cent.

He said: “I spoke against it and was the only Labour member of the panel to vote against it, because it sends out the wrong message.

“We are telling people we are freezing council tax bills, yet they will still see their bills go up because of the police precept and that is disappointing.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) made his own decision, so bills will rise but that is down to the PCC and not the council.”

Blackpool Council will meet on Friday to finalise its budget for the coming year.

A total of £36m is set to be cut by 2016, with £16m of that to be slashed in the next financial year, while 700 jobs will be lost over the next two years.

Blackpool will receive £598,000 in council tax freeze compensation grant from the Government.

The move to freeze council tax is supported by the town’s Conservative opposition group.

Mr Grunshaw said he made his decision to increase the police precept after consultation with residents showed 74 per cent were prepared to pay more.

The move will bring in an extra £1.2m for policing.