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South Ribble Council leaders pledge to freeze council tax this year

Optimistic: Chief executive Mike Nuttall, Margaret Smith and Stephen Robinson

Optimistic: Chief executive Mike Nuttall, Margaret Smith and Stephen Robinson

A senior management restructure at South Ribble Council means that residents will not see an increase in council tax for 2014/15.

Announcing the council’s budget plans for the next financial year at the Civic Centre yesterday, bosses said a number of savings have meant South Ribble’s share of council tax will be frozen for the second time in two years.

The Conservative-led council increased council tax two years ago, but has since made use of a government council tax freeze grant.

A senior management restructure will now see £160,000 of savings made, including by sharing roles within the council, but leaders said there are no redundancies planned.

The council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, Coun Stephen Robinson, said: “You can’t say that we’re going after easy targets.

“We can’t give any guarantees in this climate, but we will do our damndest to avoid redundancies.”

The borough’s yearly budget is £12.694m for 2014/15, down from £12.905m last year.

South Ribble will have its government grant reduced by 28 per cent (£1.4m) over the next two years.

Coun Robinson said: “We run this council on a managed basis. We do not wait for these announcements to be made and then react.

“Everyone knew there would be cuts in the government grants, so we decided to grasp the nettle and do something about it.

“That is why we are not sitting here announcing redundancies or an increase in council tax.”

The budget report identifies a deficit of £700,000 in 2014/15, and £410,000 of savings.

The council proposes to balance the budget with contributions from reserves.

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