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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Carlisle council tax could rise in cost-cutting move

Council tax could rise but car parking charges will be frozen under latest budget proposals.

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Dr Les Tickner: ’Cynical timing by the Government’

Carlisle City Council’s Executive has tabled plans to increase its share of the council tax by nearly two per cent.

The authority says it has to present a balanced budget to deliver quality services and growth while faced with having to save nearly £4m over the next five years.

The Executive committee proposals revealed at its meeting last night also include a freeze on all council-run car parking charges across the city.

Les Tickner, spokesman for finance, governance and resources, said: “We feel that putting up prices would penalise people that need to use car parks.”

Car parks on prime land could be sold to generate income and other sites improved and expanded.

He also said the proposed rise in council tax would equate to an annual increase of £3.89 for a Band D property.

“Nobody likes taxes but there comes a point where we can’t keep cutting and reducing taxes and expect to be able to deliver services,” he said.

“In 2003 this council put forward its highest ever rise of between six and seven per cent – we aren’t proposing anything like that.”

The rise would come into force in April but certain sections of the community, such as the vulnerable, would not be affected.

The latest budget proposals also include spending nearly £90,000 on 15 new CCTV cameras for the city.

They would be part of the planned countywide camera network put forward by Cumbria police and the Crime Commissioner.

It comes after live monitoring of Carlisle’s security cameras was stopped last year due to cash cuts and job losses.

Deputy leader Elsie Martlew insisted the council was getting a good deal.

She explained: “The costs amount to more than £1m for the whole county and we’ll have the most cameras.”

The rest of the funding for the cameras, which would cover the city centre and Botchergate areas, would come from Cumbria police and the Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes.

Also included in the spending plan is investing £5m into improving The Sands Centre as part of a major overhaul of the city’s sporting facilities.

The committee also revealed the feedback it has received from its consultations over its budget.

Council leader Colin Glover said the response has been positive as consultees “understand the difficult position we are in”.

However, Grahame Higginson, of the Carlisle Socialist Party, called on the authority to oppose orders from central government and stop cutting services.

Mr Tickner said setting a budget was a legal requirement but the council can lobby the Government to get the cuts reversed.

The budget proposals will be finalised at the next meeting of the full city council on February 4.

Have your say

I think that those of you mentioning 'swinging' cuts mean swingeing, a totally different word with a completely different meaning. The real point is how can the council say that a rise in tax (i.e. Income) equate to cost cutting? No wonder they are in financial trouble, they don't know their assets from their elbows!

Posted by P Doff on 26 January 2014 at 16:13

Swinging cuts? You must be a council employee. I've not noticed any cuts. Someone showed me the figure the other day. Carlisle council has had a reduction of about 10% from the government. Hardly 'swinging'.

Posted by Tom on 25 January 2014 at 08:58

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