Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Public's chance to debate Council budget

Redcar and Cleveland Council is giving the public the chance to have their say in preparing its 2007/2008 budget, which plans a £6million-plus investment for more and better services for the elderly, children and environment and only a cost of living Council Tax rise.

The consultative meetings are planned for Tuesday, January 30 - the first to start at 10am at the Redcar Education Development Centre, Corporation Road, Redcar and the second fixed for 6pm at Redcar Central Library, Coatham Road, Redcar.

The Council's Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources Councillor Glyn Nightingale will outline the Council's budget strategy at both meetings, then invite questions from the audience, which will also include members of the Borough's business sector plus community and voluntary sector organisations.

The consultation on the £105million budget, which will be formally approved by the Council on March 1, is expected to centre around the Council's success in keeping the projected Council Tax rise, within the cost of living increase, as well as promising a streamlined service with more public and private sector jobs.

The budget proposals earmark over £3million to invest in care for elderly people and those with learning disabilities as well as ensuring improvements to residential care and more help for people to live at home.

There is also a commitment to invest just under £2million in improving transporting children to school and ensuring 'vulnerable' children get more support, with a further £1.3million in the environment and transport.

Councillor Nightingale said: "The consultative meetings are crucial in planning next year's budget. We will be listening to what local people have to say.

"The budget process has already gone through enough stages to allow us to ask the public to look at four options. It is important everyone understands what can be achieved and what demands are being placed upon our services."

The options include:

*The 3.6 per cent increase in Council Tax in line with the cost of living.

*A 3.9 per cent increase to pay for extra Clean and Green operatives to build on our position as the second most improved recycling council in England.

*A 4.9 per cent rise in Council Tax - the Government maximum - with an extra £625,000 spent on further improvements in Council services.

*A Council Tax rise less than 3.6 per cent with cuts in services and the jobs of people directly serving the public or much higher charges for Council services, hitting the most vulnerable in our society.

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