CHESHIRE East Council has announced it will freeze council tax for the fourth year running after revealing its budget for the next financial year.
The authority told the Guardian this week that its finances were ‘well under control’.
Clr Peter Raynes, cabinet member in charge of the budget, addressed the public during the executive meeting in Crewe on February 27 and delivered in a speech as part of his ‘health check’ on the borough’s economy, plus the steps taken by the council to achieve a reduction in expenditure.
“Our performance in the third quarter of 2013/2014 shows we are now well in control of our budgets,” he said.
“We are forecasting a slight under-spend, as we achieved last year, and we will have met our target of saving £7m without compromising key services.
“In last year’s budget we took the first steps towards becoming a commissioning council. By this we mean a council that focuses its money and staff on delivering outcomes that people want and not on running a bureaucracy.”
The council has spent the last two years re-shaping, following an overhaul of its management structure, and Clr Raynes said the authority had the lowest debt levels when companred to similar councils.
“In this budget we also announce the most ambitious Capital Plan Cheshire East has seen, a plan funded mainly by attracting Government and commercial investment, a plan exceeding £400m over the next five years,” he added.
“Such a plan must be affordable, not funded by local taxes. We have the lowest debt level in our comparable group of councils, with net assets of over £200m and I have every intention of keeping it that way.”
Clr Michael Jones, leader of Cheshire East Council, praised the budget and added that is showed the borough was in ‘great shape for the future’.
“It will be necessary to increase some of our fees and charges for services such as pest control, but these are in line with inflation and we are still providing these services way below market value,” he said.
“However, the residents of Cheshire East are still receiving good value for money with the current council tax freeze representing around £200 saved for every household.”