THE leader of North Somerset Council, Cllr Mike Bell, has said that councillors of all parties "unanimously" supported the passing of a balanced budget for 2024/25.

Posting on Facebook, Cllr Bell said: "North Somerset Council passed its budget for 2024/25 last night - and it was supported unanimously by councillors of all parties and none.

"After many months of hard work, I was pleased to be able to present a balanced budget that continued to deliver the core services that local people rely upon.

"Councillors agreed a council tax increase of 2.99% to support the council’s general services and a 2% increase as an adult social care precept. This equates to an average band D property paying £1708.50 for 2024/25.

"The equivalent figure for this year was £1,627.38. The actual bill you receive will be higher as sums for the police, fire authority and town/parish councils are added.

"Highlights include:

"Investment in highway improvements including repairs to roads and pavements;

"Supporting affordable housing delivery and more homes for local people;

"£250 million in funding for local schools, and completing delivery of new school buildings in Locking Parklands, Clevedon and Churchill;

"Promoting public health and helping deliver new GP practices;

"Delivering our capital programme including Portishead rail, restoring Birnbeck Pier and investing in the Tropicana."

Cllr Bell goes on to say that change to financing and taxation models are needed.

He added: "Together with a poor local government grant settlement that sees North Somerset robbed of £37 million in government grants compared to the average English council, and it is plain to see that we have the perfect storm of financial vulnerability.

"Our partnership administration and our council officials have worked hard to deliver a balanced budget that continues to support core services for our community and deliver long-term investments.

"We are doing the right things to plan for the future, but the system of local government finance is broken. We do not have access to the tools we need to do the job, either in the form of powers to generate income or in a fair national funding system to share the nation’s wealth.

"We have continued to lobby government and the opposition front benches on the need for reform, proper devolution of powers and long-term change to financing and taxation models.

"Without that change from future governments, local services will continue a slow death and local government will see further collapse."