Stevenage Borough Council has announced a recession-busting budget, which includes a freeze in Council Tax for 2012/13, to demonstrate its continuing support to the town’s residents and businesses throughout the recession.
At a Full Council meeting this evening (Wednesday 29 February), the council’s total budget for the coming financial year was announced. Councillors also announced a series of proposals for new initiatives aimed at enhancing life for Stevenage communities.
In order to minimise the financial burden on householders, the council has chosen, for the third year running, to freeze Stevenage Council Tax. For a Band D property, the Stevenage Borough Council element will remain at £188.52. This amounts to a payment of 52p a day for services including children’s play facilities, police community support officers and CCTV coverage, doorstep refuse and recycling collections, cleaning and maintenance of the town’s streets and parks, cemeteries, allotments, the Museum, and events such as Stevenage Day and the firework display.
With the Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire Police elements also frozen, Council Tax levels in Stevenage will remain the same as 2011/12. For a Band D property, the total council tax charge will be £1,455.17.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Sharon Taylor, said, “Here in Stevenage, as in many other towns across the country, the recession is continuing to bite and we are all tightening our belts even further. I believe that it is our duty to provide all the support we can and make a real difference to our residents and I hope the council tax freeze will go some way towards helping them through these difficult times.
“Over the last few years our government funding has been reduced but we have worked hard to arrive at a stable financial position. Since 2007/8 we have made efficiency savings totalling £8.5million – that’s more than £239 for every household in Stevenage.
“Even through these straitened times, the council has pledged to protect services and support Stevenage families. We are a co-operative council and we will continue to work with residents, community groups and our partners to address their needs and priorities.”
Unveiling a series of proposals for new projects in the town, Cllr Taylor said, “Our council services are often a lifeline for people in the town, providing much needed support in difficult times. In planning ahead we have looked at whether there are any additional measures we can take to help and support our residents and businesses and I am pleased to be announcing some initiatives that are aimed at doing just that.”
Following a successful year in terms of new housing delivery, particularly affordable
housing, the council has received £0.5million of funding through the New Homes Bonus scheme. It is proposing to invest some of this funding in initiatives including a pilot free-parking scheme in the St Georges multi storey and Primett Road South car parks on Saturdays, aimed at helping hard-pressed shoppers and traders in both the Town Centre and the High Street. Also proposed is a re-brand and re-launch for the Indoor Market, on top of the previously agreed reduction in the license fee that traders pay.
Demonstrating its commitment to future generations of Stevenage residents, the council has announced the creation of at least 14 apprenticeships and the establishment of a Youth Mayor.
The council is planning to support families by expanding its play service to include holiday play schemes at Bedwell and Symonds Green, and is also investigating the feasibility of providing a new play centre in Bedwell.
Addressing the housing needs of Stevenage people is a key priority for the council and it is looking at several ways of doing this. One is the introduction of the First Step mortgage scheme, which would see the council working with local banks to help potential first time home buyers who are struggling to save for a mortgage deposit to buy a home of their own in Stevenage. Additionally, following the re-integration of the housing service to the council, it is likely that, for the first time in more than 30 years, new council housing will be built in Stevenage. This could mean 12 homes a year, every year, for the next 30 years.
Concluding the budget announcement, Councillor Taylor said, “We understand the need to act locally to do what we can to grow the local economy and to support our community in tough times. Our number one priority remains to keep Stevenage as a thriving, growing, ambitious town.”
Notes to editors:
The total Council Tax bill for Stevenage for 2012/2013 will be:
Band A - £970.12
Band B - £1,131.80
Band C - £1,293.49
Band D - £1,455.17
Band E - £1,778.54
Band F - £2,101.92
Band G - £2,425.29
Band H - £2,910.34
For every pound of council tax paid, Hertfordshire County Council gets 77p, Hertfordshire Police get 10p and Stevenage Borough Council gets 13p.
For press enquiries contact Lucie Culkin, Corporate Communications on 01438 242168.
For political comment:
Labour Ralph Raynor 01438 726118
Conservative Margaret Notley 01438 222754
Liberal Democrat Robin Parker 01438 724746
The information contained in this press release was correct on the date of issue.