Garstang council tax bill pledge

Wyre finance bosses have pledged a zero increase in council taxes AND vowed to protect front-line services.

The borough’s leader Coun Peter Gibson says “more cuts is the last thing that people need in the current economic climate.”

Coun Gibson said a budget deficit of £1.3m was being dealt with “by working differently behind the scenes and via a senior management review, which has already identified annual savings of £312,000.”

And to make sure that money is being targeted where it’s needed most, the public are being urged to spare ten minutes filling in a survey about spending priorities.

Coun Gibson, said: “We know that these are tough times for our residents, but we hope news of a council tax freeze will make things a little easier.

“That doesn’t mean services we provide direct to the Wyre public will suffer as a result, particularly in rural areas that can feel more isolated than most.

“Future funding for PCSOs has already been promised, for example, and our determination to provide excellent value for money hasn’t changed.

“What we have to do instead is learn how to provide more for less, but it’s a challenge the whole council is ready to meet.”

Subject to approval by the council in March, the pledge is for no increase to the portion of council tax that comes to Wyre Council for 2011/12.

Across the borough as a whole, significant savings are anticipated through the awarding of a new refuse collection contract in April 2012 and by bringing street cleaning services back in-house.

With a freeze also being proposed by Lancashire County Council (which takes the lion’s share of the bill), any rise in overall council tax will come from increases levied by the Fire and Police authorities and parish precepts.

Coun Gibson recently met with Wyre MP Ben Wallace to discuss financial matters.

After the meeting Mr Wallace said: “It is so refreshing to hear about a well run Council which has been planning for hard times is are determined to continue to deliver outstanding services to its residents. Because many of the savings have been made at the top of the staff ladder it will ensure that the leaner structure will still deliver front line services to a high standard.

“Despite Labours legacy of debt, Wyre Borough Council is well placed to deal with the current financial situation this is proved by the fact that Wyre Council tax payers will see a freeze in their Council Tax for 2011/12. “

* To take part in the budget setting consultation, log on to www.wyrebc.gov.uk

* The Courier hopes to publish details of the proposed parish precepts for Wyre, including that of Garstang Town Council, later this month.