Bin charges planned as leaders debate budget

Garden waste: The council is proposing to charge for garden waste collection
Garden waste: The council is proposing to charge for garden waste collection
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Town Hall bosses in Preston have published details of their budget proposals for the coming year.

Plans include charging for the collection of garden waste bins, more management restructures, and an increase in council tax.

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson

But leaders have warned that, following the news the council could face a shortfall of £4.4m a year from 2019/20, the savings will be the tip of the iceberg.

In the local government finance settlement announced in December, it was revealed Preston Council will get no Revenue Support Grant from Westminster from 2019/20.

Coun Martyn Rawlinson, the council’s cabinet member for resources, said: “It would have been very different if we’d have known what the government was going to do to us.

“It’s become almost an interim budget, it was far too late to change the cabinet budget proposals to any great degree, so we decided to go with it and begin to plan how we are going to tackle the new deficit after the financial settlement almost immediately, and prepare new proposals for October for an emergency budget.”

A report to the council’s cabinet proposes a council tax increase of 1.99 per cent, with a new Band D charge of £290.73, as well as the introduction of a charge for the collection of garden waste (brown) bins from July this year.

It is likely to be about £30 per bin per year, or £25 when paid by direct debit.

“Coun Rawlinson said: “What we believe is a small charge for garden waste will save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds, and make other services possible rather than them disappearing.”

The proposals also include savings from further management efficiencies and restructures and a rescheduling of debt charges.

A report said, by the end of March, implementing the savings will have resulted in the loss of 69 jobs, with a reduction of about 80 needed under the existing savings plan.

It added, because of the impact of the settlement figures, staff cuts on the same scale will be needed again.

Coun Rawlinson said savings in this budget needed to “triple or quadruple to find the kind of savings we need”.

He said: “We are starting all over again, but we need to be much more radical.”