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Bury Council Budget – Report

by prestwichfocus on 21 February, 2013

Last night was the annual ‘Budget Council’ meeting of Bury Council. This is an important meeting where Councillors set the budget for the next financial year (2013-14) and set the rate of Council Tax rise which will take effect in April.

– Our council tax will rise by 3.5% in April
– Council House (Six Town Housing) rents will go up by 4.1%
– the Council turned down a free grant from Government of £645,000, which was offered to the Council if it kept the Council Tax rise at zero.
– The Council has (thank fully) changed its mind on reducing local street cleaning teams, and gone some way to keep a small part of the ‘Park Ranger’ service (£50,000 of staff kept, out of £145,000.

At present Bury is a Labour-run Council, so this budget was voted for by Labour Councillors. I voted against this increase in Council Tax.

What would the Liberal Democrats have done differently?
The Liberal Democrat group proposed an amendment to:
– keep the Council Tax rise at zero
– keep the Park Rangers (the whole amount) and keep the street cleaning teams.
– a £650,000 one off budget to sort out our road repairs – after two bad winters our roads are in a terrible state and need major repairs just to return to a basic standard.
– £1 million investment in Prestwich over the next three years – the Labour group were proposing £1 million investment in Radcliffe, so we wanted to even this out and invest in our Village centre and deliver the ‘Love Prestwich’ strategy.

How would we pay for this?
– taking the £645,000 free grant from Government for keeping the Council Tax at 0%
– Reducing the amount of senior managers that Bury Council employs – currently 25 senior managers costing £2.2 million a year – we would reduce this to 21 senior managers
– working more closely with other Councils to deliver services more cheaply – yesterday four London councils announced they are saving £600,000 a year by sharing one legal department. Why can’t we do that in Bury?
– spending some of the Council’s ‘balances’ – currently more than £4 million free balances – on potholes and on Prestwich regeneration.

Our proposal was voted down by Labour Councillors. All seven Prestwich Labour Councillors voted against investing £1 million in regenerating Prestwich village, but voted in favour of investing £1 million in Radcliffe.

Sorry that I have to report such bad news about the Council Tax rise.

All the papers for the meeting are here. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any comments or questions.


   1 Comment

One Response

  1. Paul says:

    Since 1997 the bury council tax has nearly doubled. During this time there has has only been a small increase in the number of residents in the bury area approximately 2.5% (based on census data 2001 to 2010).

    If the council tax has nearly doubled apart from inflation, what are the main driving factors?

    I would hypothesis that, the previous labour government was artificially driving up local government employment; this was probably funded by large increases in spending from local government and central government (Via labour intensive legislation) thus requiring large increases in the council tax. Of which was on average greater than 5%.

    What the council needs are cuts, serious cuts to the large numbers of middle managers and steakholders in various departments which are top heavy. An example being social services middle management.

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