Conservatives Hold Down Council Tax Rise

  • Just 0.9% Average Over Last Four Years
  • Financial Boost Given to Local Priorities

Bromley Council has once again set a balanced budget, despite continuing financial pressures, with a council tax rise of just 42p a week at Band D.

Total Council Tax, including the Conservative Mayor of London’s portion, will increase by just 1.6% – close to the current inflation rate of 1.3% (RPI). This is despite the council facing a budget gap of £25m over the next four years, as central government continues to drive down the national deficit still lingering after Labour’s thirteen years of mismanagement.

In fact, thanks to sound Conservative financial management at both Bromley Civic Centre and City Hall, total council tax has increased by an average of just 0.9% in the last four years.

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Included in this year’s budget was a 2% ‘ringfenced’ council tax increase for social care, and £19m in savings focussed, as far as possible, on non-essential expenditure and administration cuts.

Council Leader Cllr Stephen Carr said: “We have had to make this increase in Council Tax this year to help balance the budget and have introduced the 2 per cent precept allowed by the Chancellor to help meet the costs of care, as our population ages and more people have complex care needs. This is particularly acute in Bromley where we have a larger-than-average ageing population. During our budget consultation last year many residents again said they understood the need for a rise in Council Tax to help protect essential services.

“We have the lowest funding per head of population in London and, as budgets contract, we have to do things differently, even stopping some services. Supporting people to be more self-sufficient with signposting to online services, for instance, helps to conserve limited funding for those who need help most and for services that reflect the priorities of local residents.”

The budget also includes two years’ transitional funding from Central Government, won after intervention from the borough’s Conservative MPs including Bob Stewart.

The Leader of the Council also added: “As a result of our strict and determined budget monitoring, I am delighted to announce we are in a position to set aside £750,000 from underspends in the current year’s budget to allow us to further enhance our environment.

The proposals are:
• £250,000 to enhance our environment, particularly to help with the maintenance of trees and replacing those that have been lost.
• £250,000 to attack the scourge of environmental crime, especially fly-tipping.
• £250,000 to enhance and improve local shopping parades, building on a successful programme of local shopping district improvements over the last couple of years.

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Another Phone Mast Refused

The mobile ‘phone mast proposed for the green at the junction of Birch Tree Avenue and Queensway was turned down by a council planning committee last night.

The committee heard representations from both residents’ associations and Cllr. Graham Arthur, who cited the quality of consultation, lack of explanation as to why alternative sites had been ruled out, and the potential harm to the openness of the green caused by the equipment cabinet. The committee then agreed unanimously to reject the bid by Vodafone and Telefonica (O2).
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Pre-empting accusations of ‘Nimbyism’, Cllr. Arthur had pointed out that an application for another, more appropriate, site in the ward had recently been approved without opposition from local councillors.

The refusal comes after last year’s plans to erect a taller mast on another green, at the junction of Kingsway and Gates Green Road, were turned down on similar grounds.