Herts County Council freezes council tax
HERTFORDSHIRE County Council will freeze its council tax for 2010/11, council Leader Robert Gordon announced today (Tuesday). It means that residents will not be asked to pay a penny more this year for services such as schools, roads, social care and fire
HERTFORDSHIRE County Council will freeze its council tax for 2010/11, council Leader Robert Gordon announced today (Tuesday).
It means that residents will not be asked to pay a penny more this year for services such as schools, roads, social care and fire and rescue provided by the council.
Cllr Gordon said: "We recognise that Hertfordshire's people are having a tough time as a result of the recession. This has led to greater demands on some of our services, but we are determined to absorb those additional costs and the extra amount we have to spend to support our ageing population rather than pass the burden on to the hard-pressed council taxpayer."
The council tax freeze comes despite Hertfordshire receiving the lowest rise in central government grant of any county council in the country. The detailed budget will be tabled by Cabinet on February 1 and formally agreed by full council on February 23.
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Outlining the budget, Cllr Gordon added: "I am confident that we will be able to maintain the range and quality of our services, fund the increasing pressures on our budget and once again allocate a record amount for highway maintenance. We will also provide substantial funds over the next few years to respond to the dramatic increase in pupil numbers.
"We will need to draw significantly on our reserves to balance the books next year, but will be dependant on major savings through the Business Transformation Programme launched before Christmas to hold down the council tax in later years.
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"We always have to strike a balance between the costs of providing high quality services and the pockets of those who have to fund them. Over the next few years, we will do everything we can to protect front-line services and balance the books without increasing the council tax. This will not be easy but, in the current national financial circumstances, I am sure it is the right thing to do."
The council move was welcomed by North East Herts Tory MP Oliver Heald who said: "This is Conservatism in action. When residents are suffering financially, it is very welcome that Hertfordshire County Council is giving a helping hand by freezing the Council Tax and David Cameron has said that this would continue for a further two years under a Conservative Government."
But Lib Dem leader at the council Chris White hit back saying: "We need to make sure this is not funded by cuts in front line services but by real savings in what we pay suppliers and management overheads.