West Norfolk council tax and car park charge rise plans backed
West Norfolk is in a better position than many councils, despite budgeting to raise tax and most of its charges, its leader has claimed.
Budget proposals, including a £5 council tax increase for an average band D home were supported by the borough council’s cabinet yesterday.
But officials say the plan for the next financial year is balanced and funded plans can also be presented for the following three years, despite uncertainty over future funding structures.
And council leader Brian Long said that was down to sound management of the borough’s affairs.
He said: “The fact we can present a budget that is financially affordable moving forward, despite the uncertainty, in the way we have is testament to years of prudential budgeting.
“What we’re aiming to do is move the onus away from the reliance on central government grant to a position where we are able to sustainably budget locally and be masters of our own destiny in West Norfolk.”
Alistair Beales added that the authority had only imposed a total tax increase of around seven per cent since 2005.
But independent Charles Joyce raised concerns about the proposed increases in parking charges, particularly the plan to double the overnight charge from £1 to £2 and extend its operation by an hour at each end.
He argued that it would particularly affect the long-stay car parks and could force drivers to have to buy additional tickets.
Mr Long suggested the concern should have been raised during panel discussions prior to the meeting, but added: “I dont see the problems you see with it.”
The meeting also supported a proposed capital programme of more than £29 million during the coming financial year, covering a range of projects.
The meeting was told that work on the fourth phase of the NORA project is due to start soon, while work on development of land on Alexandra Road, Hunstanton is likely to start this autumn.
Audit committee chairman David Pope questioned the cost of infrastructure at the proposed Nar Ouse Business Park being met from business rates receipts over a 25 year period.
But Mr Beales said projects of that sort required the acceptance of some risk.
He said: “If we leave that piece of ground as it is, there will be no business rates coming forward.
“It’s not just about business rates, it’s about jobs and investment and growth. While we’re spending this money, we’re not putting it on the 2.30 at Haydock.”