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Free parking scheme to be extended in Tendring – while Colchester plans council tax freeze

Tendring District Council car park, Manningtree

Tendring District Council car park, Manningtree

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A free parking scheme for Tendring residents looks set to continue under council budget plans – though the initiative will see some cut backs.

Colchester Town Hall is proposing a council tax freeze.Colchester Town Hall is proposing a council tax freeze.

Tendring District Council leader Neil Stock had warned the scheme, which aims to boost the local economy, may have to be axed in the wake of Government funding cuts.

However in the authority’s draft budget, due to be debated by cabinet members on Friday, the scheme will continue for another three years.

But in the revised initiative being proposed residents will have to opt-in for a permit, instead of being automatically issued one, and the scheme will not be valid during the busy tourist months of July and August unless residents upgrade.

A policy giving free parking to all motorists in council-run car parks after 3pm could also be rolled back to 6pm.

Tendring District Council is also looking at a 1.99% rise in council tax, the first rise in several years, to put it on a stable financial footing.

The rise would mean a Band D home pays £2.94 more, or £150.58 a year for the district share of council tax.

Tom Howard, cabinet member for finance, said: “The modified free parking scheme is to be funded by the remaining existing funding allocated to it, so this is cost-neutral and will be monitored to measure the actual cost against the projected cost.

“The proposed 1.99% rise in council tax is necessary to help offset the savage cuts in Government funding and to protect front-line services wherever possible. Even with the rise, the cessation of black sacks, and the implementation of efficiencies wherever possible, there is a still a need to use some of the reserves saved last year in order to smooth the impact of cuts while providing a sustainable budget for the future of Tendring.”

Other spending plans in the budget include a slightly increased Clacton Air Show budget of £105,220 as the event marks its 25th anniversary this year.

Across the border, Colchester Borough Council is looking to freeze council tax again for next year, meaning it will be unchanged since 2010/11, under budget plans due to be debated by cabinet members next Wednesday.

Spending plans include £1.4m investment in Colchester Leisure World, particularly in the gym and Aqua Springs, £400,000 to bring forward the second phase of the Creative Business Centre, and the previously announced £1m commitment to the Mercury Theatre redevelopment scheme over two years.

Tourism is also given a £300,000 boost with a range of measures, including a heritage guide, promoting the town through Visit England, and the Fixing the Link project improving the journey between Colchester North station and the town centre.

Paul Smith, leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “I’m proud to be leading the council at a time when we can focus on enhancing frontline services with investment in leisure, heritage and business as well as freezing council tax for the sixth consecutive year.

“In spite of the council facing some very difficult and serious financial pressures, we have been able to steer a clear path towards delivering a budget for next year which protects vital services and delivers on our promise of increasing investment in the borough.”

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