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Biggest council tax hike in years planned

PUBLISHED: 07:01 06 February 2018

Cllr Nigel Ashton has been critical of the Government for cutting funding.

Cllr Nigel Ashton has been critical of the Government for cutting funding.

Archant

Tax bills are to rise even more next year than initially thought, with the council also announcing it will close one of its children’s centres to save cash.

This afternoon (Tuesday) North Somerset Council’s most senior members are set to push ahead with plans to make more than £10million in savings.

Council leader Nigel Ashton has defended the move, saying the authority’s hands are tied due to cuts in Government funding.

Last year tax bills rose for only the second time in six years, but households face even greater payments from April 1.

Bills are set to rise by about six per cent, in part due to a three per cent levy being planned to help fund rising social care costs incurred by the council.

North Somerset was also planning to raise its tax by 1.99 per cent, but instead is looking at a 2.99 per cent rise after the Government agreed to increase the maximum threshold councils could increase bills by.

If such a rise is ratified by the executive today and by the full council later in the month, people living in an average band D property can expect to see their contribution to the council rise by about £70 per year.

Bills however will likely rise by more than that with many parish and town councils, plus the emergency services, increasing their precepts which are also collected through council tax.

Despite the likely tax increase, some services will still face the chop.

Papers released ahead of next week’s meeting say Banwell Children’s Centre will likely close – although North Somerset has failed to say when it proposes shutting it.

Cllr Ann Harley, who represents Banwell, said it is a ‘reluctant’ move because the council ‘does not have the funding’.

She said: “It’s a possibility none us are happy with but we are unfortunately where we are.

“The finances are at a difficult stage and we have to prioritise.

“We are having to take some very unfortunate steps.

“Central Government feels we have to almost be self-sufficient.”

She said the council has a reputation for being ‘frugal’ but priorities such as adult care are driving the changes.

Yatton’s children centre moved into the library last summer but further changes are planned. The council wishes to alter ‘staffing arrangements and operations’ but has failed to elaborate further.

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