Plans to freeze council tax and parking fees in West Norfolk

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Council tax looks set to be frozen for the fourth year in a row if West Norfolk Council’s budget plans are backed next week.

The council’s Cabinet is due to meet next Tuesday, February 4, to consider the financial plan for 2013/2017.

Car parking charges are also set to be frozen for a further year and an additional £100k has been earmarked for car park promotions in 2016/2017 to encourage shoppers into town centres.

If approved the borough council proportion of the council tax bill looks set to remain at £111.97 per year for a Band D property.

This equates to eight per cent of the total council tax bill, with the remainder going to Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Police Authority.

In 2016/2017 a two per cent increase is proposed which would mean an increase of £2.24 a year for a Band D property.

Council leader Nick Daubney said: “Officers and members have worked hard to identify new ways of working, partnership arrangements and other opportunities to either cut costs or increase income.

“I am proud of what we have managed to achieve, and pleased that it means we can recommend a council tax freeze and hold car parking charges down for another year.

“Our track record of keeping council tax down is exemplary and that is down to forward planning and prudential financial management.

“We cannot however be complacent, as our grant funding from Government will continue to be cut and we must therefore continue with our ongoing cost-reduction programme.”

Between 2014 and 2016 the Government has provided £1,270,830 less in funding than anticipated, with further cuts expected.

The report shows the council underspent on its 2013/2014 budget by £33,000. Since 2011 service reviews have reduced ongoing annual spending by £7.2m.

The report says: “Very few authorities can match the record of the Council and many still have difficulties in dealing with the budget for the current year, let alone future years.”

Around £15m is set to be invested in the borough via projects including the refurbishment of the Saturday Market Place, resurfacing of council car parks and the introduction of ‘variable messaging signage’ which would give people real-time information about parking spaces.

A new enterprise centre – a hub for new and expanding businesses – will also be built in Lynn this year.

Mr Daubney said: “We have had a challenging few years and I have no doubt that this year will prove equally challenging.

“However, I face it with renewed optimism, as forecasts are suggesting that the economy is improving and I believe we have the right mix of investment in our budget that will help King’s Lynn and West Norfolk take advantage of any opportunities as they arise.”

Among the more unusual costs revealed in the report was the fact that the council anticipated it would spend £6,060 on the maintenance of public clocks in 2013/2014.

If the budget is approved by Cabinet, it will then be presented to the full council on February 27.