Council tax set to rise in Preston to balance budget

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson

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Council tax is set to rise in Preston by almost two per cent as Town Hall bosses work to balance the books.

Leaders say the authority is “treading water”, as it continues to work through the dramatic cuts programme brought in last year.

The budget proposals for the coming year have been presented to be considered by Preston Council’s cabinet, and suggest a 1.99 per cent increase in council tax.

Other cuts, discussed by bosses last year, are now also set to come into force. They include reduced street cleaning, less frequent grass cutting in city parks, and the closure of bowling greens in Haslam Park, Ribbleton Park and one of the two greens in Ashton Park.

Cabinet member for resources, Coun Martyn Rawlinson, said: “We have worked through a lot of the savings and officers have had time to change operations so people won’t notice the difference as much, but they still will notice the difference.

“We’ve been able to find volunteers and people have left so the impact on staffing is mitigated, but over the long term people may start to notice the difference in places like street cleaning and parks maintenance.

“But we’ve got less money. We’ve not really stopped anything but things will just perhaps take longer than they did before.”

Coun Rawlinson described the latest budget as a “holding position”, while savings are worked through and leaders await the result of the general election.

He said: “We are treading water this year because there were so many savings to make last year.

“The savings we implemented last year are a two-to-three year programme.

“We’ve now got a management restructure to go through so there’s not an awful lot in this year’s budget in terms of changes, but we are still managing the recent cuts and looking forward at a very uncertain future.

“We need to see the result of the general election and the possibility of further cuts.”

He added: “We are going for the maximum council tax rise which is less than two per cent.

“It’s a very small amount for Preston because we only get a fraction of the council tax that’s collected, most of it goes to the county council so our portion is quite a small rise.

“We’ve managed to maintain most of our services to a very high standard despite massive reductions in our government grant and other pressures on our income streams, so we think it’s good value.”