No increase in ER council tax

Coun. Stephen Parnaby
Coun. Stephen Parnaby

There will be no incrase in council tax in the East Riding of Yorkshire - for the fifth successive year.

At a special meeting today (6 February), members will be told that the authoriy is in better financial shape than most others - because they planned for hard times.

The council is expected to vote in favour of a new budget which will include pegging for a fifth year the tax paid by East Riding residents.

Leader of the council, Stephen Parnaby OBE, said: “I want to dispel some myths about the government funding we receive and the cuts we have had to make and continue to endure. In order to balance next year’s budget, the council has had to find savings of around £23m.

“I know figures can be confusing but to put this into perspective, the council’s funding has been reduced by around £25m over the four years to April. Further reductions of around £40m are anticipated from this year to 2018. That means, to offset funding cuts and unavoidable pressures, savings of £71m must be achieved between 2010-2014. From this year and to 2018 we expect a similar sum will be required, making a total of up to £140m, around 50 per cent of our net budget.

“Just as a reminder, the government funding received per household in the Humber area is Hull £1,692, North East Lincolnshire £1,353, North Lincolnshire £1,122 and the East Riding £862. This is against a backdrop of a national average for unitary councils of £1347.”

“This budget will deliver another freeze in council tax, meaning that this council’s part of the council tax bill will not have increased since 1 April 2010. Tax payers will see some increases in their bill if local town and parish councils have increased their precept, however in cash terms these will be minimal.

“There will also be an increase in the police precept of nearly 2% and, possibly some from the fire authority. Clearly, other precepting authorities will have their reasons for increasing their charges, but we can only control our element of the bill.”

Coun Parnaby is expected to point to some of the innovative ways the council is looking ahead. He will point to the move to make libraries and leisure centres into hubs for other services. An example is the new Haltemprice leisure centre which also houses a GP’s surgery, a library and customer service centre, replacing several buildings and reducing running costs.

Technology is playing a part in helping the council make better use of its fleet of vehicles, ranging from school buses to waste collection vehicles, gritters and gulley cleaners. IT is showing how to combine journeys, reduce the mileage, save fuel and cut down on the number of vehicles.

IT is also playing an increasing important role in other services, including the maintenance of council homes. The maintenance teams are now equipped with hand-held devices enabling them to quickly respond to calls from tenants. And the teams are directed to where they are needed without constantly having to return to the depot for instructions and materials.

The council is also looking at ways in which it can bring in other revenues. Cllr Parnaby will give as example how the council is hiring out its services to other authorities and organisations, such as the police, fire service, NHS and charities. That expertise has been put to use in the relocation of Grimsby’s Art & Design School, the building of Humberside police headquarters and, currently, the design and construction of Clough Road fire station in Hull.