East Cambs set to approve tax freeze

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Councillors are expected to agree a council tax freeze for residents in East Cambridgeshire at a meeting next week.

The authority’s finance and governance committee will deliver its budget for the year 2014/15 to the full council on Thursday to be discussed by members.

If the proposal is approved, the council will qualify for the Government’s Council Tax Freeze Grant, which will provide additional funding to councils that freeze council tax in both 2014/15 and 2015/16.

The district council said the announcement followed the success of its ongoing medium-term financial strategy to deliver savings.

Councillor James Palmer, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Over the last four years, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure we use our limited funds wisely for the benefit of East Cambridgeshire.

“This mantra of always seeking best value for money has allowed us to again present a balanced budget for the next financial year.

“This is a significant achievement which officers and councillors should be proud of as we continue to deliver the best for East Cambridgeshire.”

Meanwhile, members of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority agreed to freeze its portion of council tax for 2014/15 at a meeting on Thursday, February 13.

Savings of £4.2million have already been made by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, which will now be able to accept an additional grant of £183,000 from the Government.

But chief fire officer Graham Stagg said the fire authority was expecting further “significant” budget cuts from 2015 onwards.

He said: “We have made some of the savings for this comprehensive spending review period early, so not only can we freeze our portion of the council tax but we are able to reinvest some of the money back into the service in the short term to improve our frontline appliances and equipment.”

He added: “As much as we have been able to protect the frontline from the budget cuts made over the last couple of years, we cannot guarantee that will be the case from 2015 onwards. We will, however, do all we can to minimise the impact.”

Sir Peter Brown, fire authority chairman, said: “I am pleased we agreed to freeze our part of the council tax precept for the next financial year, and we are proud to be able to provide a top quality service that is value for money to the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”