Resort chiefs to freeze council tax

Blackpool Town Hall
Blackpool Town Hall
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Town hall bosses in Blackpool are to freeze their element of the council tax for the fourth year in a row – but residents will see a rise in their bills to pay for police and fire services.

Blackpool Council will issue a charge of £1,306 for an average band D property in the resort 2015/16.

But Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner will add around £159 on to that after increasing the police precept by 1.99 per cent (an additional £3.12), while Lancashire Combined Fire Authority will add £64.86 after increasing its charge by 1.9 per cent (an additional £1.21).

This will take the final bill for a band D property to just over £1,529 compared to £1,525 this year.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said he was disappointed residents would see an increase in their bills. He said: “The Conservatives raised council tax from £1,176 to £1,306 during their four years in office.

“We’ve frozen it for the past three years, and propose to do so again this year, as we recognise the huge financial pressure most people are under.

“I therefore find it hugely irritating that people in Blackpool will still see their bills rise – albeit only slightly – because both the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Fire Authority have increased their precepts, over which we have no control.”

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw raised the precept following consultation.

He said: “Lancashire residents have told me by three to one that they support an increase in the council tax precept to help fund police.”

A spokesman for Lancashire Combined Fire Authority said: “We are working hard to balance the budget against a fall in revenue from central Government of £2.9m, which is nine per cent of our budget.”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said: “The Government urged all councils to freeze council tax so I’m delighted this current administration is taking their advice.

“However being a little cynical we have to remember it’s election year and there are no guarantees from the current administration that if they get back in that council tax will not rise in 2016 and onwards.”

Blackpool Council’s executive will set the council tax when it meets on Monday ahead of a full council meeting to agree the budget on February 27. The council revealed last month it must find savings of more than £25m over the next 12 months, with 300 jobs set to go, due to central Government cutbacks.

Lancashire County Council is increasing its council tax by 1.99 per cent, which will mean an additional £22 on the annual bill for an average Band D property – on top of any increase demanded by Fylde and Wyre district councils, as well as the fire and police precepts.

It means householders with an average Band D property will pay £1,129.78 to the county council.