Posted: Thu 23rd Feb 2023

Alternative budget put forward by opposition councillors would see lower council tax rise in Flintshire

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Opposition councillors in Flintshire County Council are set to challenge a proposed budget which to be voted on this afternoon. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The local authority is proposing a Council Tax increase of just under 5% for the next financial year in order to bridge a £37m gap in its budget. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Although the Welsh government has provided an additional £19.5m in funding, the local authority is still facing financial pressures “beyond its control”, such as pay awards, temporary accommodation, and school transport costs. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The proposed overall annual increase of 4.95% amounts to £71.75 per annum, bringing the total to £1,521.33 on a Band D equivalent. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The council states that the increase is necessary to meet additional contributions to the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Regional Coroners Service, and Regional Education Consortium GwE, as well as the rising workforce and other expenses. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Leader of the council’s ruling Labour cabinet, Flint Castle Councillor Ian Roberts, said, “We have worked hard to ensure that we present a balanced budget and maintain council services.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We are acutely aware of the financial pressures which all households are facing and have therefore kept the element of Council Tax relating to council service to 3.99%, when taking into account other levying bodies the overall level equates to 4.95%.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Independent councillors have published an alternative budget which they say addresses the financial pressures “while reducing the burden on its residents”. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The alternative budget is expected to be tabled as an amendment during the course of today’s meeting. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The alternative budget would see a lower Council Tax increase of 4.8% while retaining a ‘portfolio of efficiencies’ to help balance the budget. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The alternative budget also reverses proposed cuts in the opening hours of Mold and Buckley connects centres and rows back on proposals to increase car parking charges, which are among eight ‘budget reduction options’ the independent group say they will not be supporting. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Councillor Richard Jones, Independent Buckley Bistre East said, “It is our belief that the Alternative Budget provides a well thought-out and fair budget that gives comfort to residents during these difficult times, as the cost of living erodes their spending power.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Our budget appreciates the difficulty in creating a legally balanced budget that reduces the financial impact on residents, whilst budget pressures work against us.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Therefore, our effort has been to lower any Council Tax increase to the lowest level possible whilst minimising the effect upon front-line services.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We have also wanted to protect Connects Centres as an important method of interface between our residents and the Local Authority, we also see increases in car parking charges as an action that works against the very need to protect our High Streets.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Councillor Bernie Attridge said he hopes to gain the support of all independent, conservative and liberal democrat members this afternoon. “I believe this could go either way,” the Connah’s Quay Central Councillor said. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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