Council tax rise approved

Jenny Mein
Jenny Mein
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Lancashire County Council has approved a four per cent rise in Council Tax from April.

At the council’s annual budget meeting on Thursday, councillors approved what Deputy Leader Coun David Borrow (right) described as a ‘no change budget’, with most of its details agreed last year.

But he warned of trouble ahead, saying the council will run out of cash soon unless the Government increases funding for social care and other services.

He said: “The problems going forward are immense.”

In the next financial year the council will use £73m from its reserves. County Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We do not want to increase council tax but our dire financial situation means we have no choice.

“Even allowing for a 3.99 per cent rise over the next four years we will still have a funding gap of £153m in 2020/21.”

The tax rise includes a two per cent increase specifically for social care services and means a Band D council tax payer will face a county council charge of £1,221.74.

Tory councillor Michael Green failed in a bid to persuade the ruling Labour group to reinstate library and bus services affected by cuts when he introduced his party’s alternative budget.

Afterwards he said: “We are disappointed for the people of Lancashire.

“This would have meant 26 libraries across the county could have reopened by July 1.”

The Tory proposals included spending £2.2m on reopening closed libraries, providing £1m in subsidies to retain existing subsidised bus routes and fund more bus services and £1m to provide employment opportunities for young people. Other proposals in the rejected £14m package included cutting the number of vacant posts continuing a subsidy for the Knott End ferry.

But his proposals were rebuffed with Liberal Democrat Coun David Whipp saying: “I’ve never seen such extreme Tory fantasy financing.”

The budget was approved by 45 votes to 30, with three abstentions.

Blackpool Council is also struggling to fund its growing social care obligations