Tax and parking charges to rise under West Norfolk Council budget plans

GV of The Tuesday Market Place King'a Lynn in Winter ANL-160121-075305009

GV of The Tuesday Market Place King'a Lynn in Winter ANL-160121-075305009

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Tax and parking charges are both set to rise under new budget plans published by West Norfolk Council.

The fees levied on most borough-provided services are also projected to increase in the proposals, which will be debated for the first time next week.

Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk Councillors ENGANL00120130214162648

Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk Councillors ENGANL00120130214162648

But officials have warned they will still need to find millions of pounds worth of savings even if the suggested increases are implemented.

The authority is proposing to raise its portion of the council tax by 0.8 per cent in the 2016-17 financial year, following five successive years of freezes.

The move would add around 90 pence to the annual bill for a typical band D property, though with both Norfolk County Council and police commissioner Stephen Bett considering increases, the overall increase could be far higher.

But leader Nick Daubney insisted the plan did meet his pledge to hold any tax increase either at or below the rate of inflation.

The claim is based on the September retail price index of 0.9 per cent, which is the government’s preferred measure, rather than the 0.2 per cent consumer price index figure published this week.

And he said changes in central government policy had forced them to impose increases.

He said: “Over the last five years the Government provided a grant to councils to support council tax freezes, but that has now changed and councils are expected to cover the cost of the services they provide through income raised locally.

“This has forced us to look differently at our budget this year.”

The council’s financial plan also proposes further 1.9 per cent tax rises for the following three years, although members do have the power to raise the tax by £5 per year.

But Mr Daubney insisted the council’s services still represented good value for public money.

He said: “This increase is much lower than increases being presented by many of our neighbours.”

The financial plan also proposes increases to the charges for many of the services it provides, with some of the most significant being on parking.

A half-hour stay in either the Tuesday Market Place, the Saturday Market Place or the outdoor area near the St James multi-storey in Lynn, as well as the Valentine Road car park in Hunstanton, will go up from the current 80p to £1.

Charges for longer stays in those locations and other short-term car parks will also increase, while 30p will be added to the current rates at the Boal Quay and Common Staithe Quay long-stay parking sites.

Monthly and annual season tickets will also rise, although the £1 overnight charge will be frozen.

There will also be rises in the fees charges on many other council services.

But Mr Daubney said the authority had done all it could to keep the rises down.

However, he also warned that, despite the increases, the council will have to find a further £3.9 million in savings over the next three years in order to keep services at their current levels.

He said an efficiency plan will be drawn up in order to find reductions, while efforts to promote business and housing growth will continue.

Another extensive programme of events is also planned for Lynn during the year ahead in a bid to encourage visitors into the town

Mr Daubney added: “While the government continues to tackle the country’s financial deficit, it is important that we all do our bit. 

“This council needs to play its part too, and whilst I think that staff and members have done a sterling job in addressing the funding gap, we still have a big task on our hands and the next few years are going to be challenging.”

Overall, the council plans to spend just under £18 million on delivering its services during the 2016-17 financial year.

The proposals will first be debated at a meeting of the council’s resources and performance panel this Tuesday, January 26, before going to the cabinet on February 2.

If they are approved, they will then be considered by the full council at its meeting on February 25.