Council resists any rise to tax charges

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Derbyshire Dales District Council has announced it is freezing its council tax charges this year.

The authority has also pledged to protect frontline services in the coming year, despite having to make savings of £1.3million.

It will be finding the extra cash with cutbacks which include increasing fees and charges, making 17 voluntary redundancies, reducing agency staff, not filling vacant posts and cutting staff working hours.

Reserve funds will also be used to achieve a balanced budget – following the 16.2 per cent cut in Government grant.

Council leader Lewis Rose, said: “The district council has worked terrifically hard to put together a budget that protects the excellent services delivered on behalf of local people as far as possible. Radical solutions were needed and all staff were engaged in this process.

“Last month we reluctantly increased our fees and charges, though I should point out this mostly only offset inflation and the impact of the Government’s VAT increase in January. We are legally obliged to set a balanced budget and that is what we have done.

“The fact that the average household in the Dales still pays only £3.65 a week for our services demonstrate how we continue to do more with less by making value for money a top priority.”

The spending review will see grants cut to several services including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Derbyshire Dales CVS which will have their funding cut by ten per cent for three years.

The council will also be saving over £35,000 by not filling a vacant Street Scene Officer post and other posts including a tourism assistant, benefits officer and grounds maintenance operative, will not be filled.

Money will also be raised through higher car parking charges, fees for road closures and the council will save around £6,000 by scrapping its annual calendar and a further £5,637 by cutting down on its newsletter, DalesMatters.

Cllr Irene Ratcliffe, leader of the Labour group on Derbyshire Dales District Council, said: “The biggest thing for me is the increase in car parking. Motorists are being hit again. If the council don’t start taking on board some of the businesses concerns we are going to find more and more shops closing.”

She added: “The district council has been cutting staff over the years and we are concerned about the redundancies and posts not being filled as staff are having to do more and more work.

“We support most of the measures that are being taken because we have no choice however more needs to be done to create growth in the Derbyshire Dales and we should not be penalising motorists at this time.”

Cllr Rose said he could not guarantee that all services would be unaffected, but added: “We promise to continue to consult vigorously with local people and listen to what they are saying.”