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Ryedale District Council tax freeze on cards, but cuts to come
SAVINGS of £2.4 million made by Ryedale District Council in the past three years mean a council tax freeze for the coming financial year.
But councillors were told at a special budget planning meeting last week that more cuts are likely in 2014-15.
Paul Cresswell, the district’s director of strategy, told the policy and resources committee that the council was in a “financially-sound position” to face the possibility of “more difficult years ahead”.
He told councillors: “We have carried out a top to bottom review of the council.” The council’s funding for the next financial year, starting in April, will be made up of 20 per cent from business rates, 30 per cent from the Government’s revenue support grant, and 50 per cent from council tax payers.
Mr Cresswell said: “The council has put in place the framework for ensuring a strong financial base that delivers priorities.”
He said Ryesdale District Council had received additional funding from the Government amounting £90,000 which had played a key part in the budget planning.
But, he added, the council’s resources working party is to start next month to plan the budget strategy for the financial year starting in April 2014 and beyond, “including options for services cuts”.
On the awarding of costs against Ryedale District Council in favour of the Fitzwilliam Estate following the controversial planning appeal for the Malton livestock market site, Mr Cresswell said: “It will be some time before the bill will be agreed”, adding that the money was expected to be paid out of the council’s reserves.
Coun Keith Knaggs (Con) congratulated Mr Cresswell and his team. “We have been more professional than the coalition government,” he said.
• PLANS to axe garden waste collections to save money but increase spending to attract tourists sparked a row at the policy and resources committee meeting.
Coun Keith Knaggs (Con) successfully moved that the saving £15,000 on collecting green waste in winter should go ahead.
“It is not necessary to collect at that time of the year. It seems reasonable to discontinue it,” he said.
He was supported by Coun Jim Bailey (Con) who added: “It is silly to have our vehicles going round burning fuel to make such small collections at that time of the year.”
Coun Knaggs was also keen to agree an increase from £2,000 to £8,000 in the amount it pays to Welcome to Yorkshire to promote tourism in Ryedale.
But Coun Tommy Woodward (Lib) unsuccessfully tried to veto the proposed increase, saying there had been insufficient public consultation on the budget for the 2013-2014 financial year.
Coun Lindsay Burr (Lib Dem) described Welcome to Yorkshire as “another extra burden on the taxpayers”.
But Coun Knaggs said the regional marketing body needed the money because it had lost half its marketing budget with the folding of Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency. “Welcome to Yorkshire sells Yorkshire to the world, but there is room to do things a lot smarter so far as tourism is concerned,” he said.
Axing the grant would be “the worst possible cut” for Ryedale, he added. “It would do grave harm to many businesses in Ryedale.”
While the refuse collection cut and the Welcome to Yorkshire grant increase went ahead, the decisions have still to be given approval by the full council meeting on February 26.