Council Tax frozen but services face budget cuts

by Nigel Bakhai on 31 March, 2011

Council Tax was set in Ealing for 2011/12 at this month’s full council meeting on 1st March. The good news for residents is that council tax is being frozen.

For a resident in Band D, their council tax of £1369.75 is made up of £1059.93 going towards Ealing Council and £309.82 to the London Mayor’s precept. 

There are a number of significant new capital investments that the Liberal Democrat council group welcomed including £45 million on Primary School expansion given the increasing school age population and £3.6 million on updating the council’s outdated IT infrastructure.

The Lib Dems also accept that Ealing Council needs to make tough choices in order to achieve savings of £55 million by 2013/14 following a 12.3% reduction in the central government grant on a like-for-like basis from £165.7 million to £145.4 million in 2011/12 with a further reduction of 8.4% down to £132.3 million in 2012/13.

At the time of the budget meeting, Ealing Council had announced £35.9 million of the proposed savings with a further £19.1 million of “items in development” still to be worked out. Almost all areas of the council budget are likely to be affected by the cuts with around 300 council staff expected to lose their jobs, the closure of the Albert Dane centre for the disabled, reductions in grants to voluntary groups, plans to sell a number of council owned properties around the borough, as well as increases in parking charges and other fees. 

The Lib Dem group argued for an amendment to the budget which would have cut councillors’ basic pay by 10% and cancelled the council’s £5.5 million borrowing to build a new car park in Southall and re-allocated the savings to be spent on retaining more front-line jobs like Park Rangers and Enviro-crime Prevention Officers to keep parks and streets safer and cleaner, as well as investing in Libraries, pavements and road repairs. However, despite the fact that the Conservative group sided with us, the amendment was defeated by the majority Labour group.

Here is a summary of the Liberal Democrat budget proposals:

 Revenue alterations
Add a Ranger Manager post instead of the Nature Conservation Manager post Net nil cost
Conversion of the Park Area Officers & the Nature Conservation Officers to Park Rangers Saving of circa £10,800
Addition of Six Park Rangers Cost of circa £221,000
Addition of Four Enviro-crime officers Cost of circa £152,700
Reduction of Councillor’s basic allowance by 10% Saving of circa of £66,300
Revenue saving from not borrowing monies for the “Southall Town Centre Regeneration and Car Parking” item Saving of circa £296,500
Overall change Net zero
Capital alterations
Removal of the Southall Town Centre Regeneration and Car Parking line from the Capital budget Saving of £5,450,000
Redirect funding of £1,634,000 Capital to restore Hanwell and Perivale Libraries Cost of £1,634,000
Addition of £425,000 Capital for pavements within the Infrastructure renewal programme Cost of £425,000
Addition of £425,000 Capital for highways within the Infrastructure renewal programme Cost of £425,000
Overall Change Reduced borrowing of £2,966,000
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