Council tax is set to rise in west Suffolk under plans to go before councillors next week.

West Suffolk Council is planning a council tax rise of 2.99% in line with the Government’s advice for local authorities - the maximum amount possible.

The increase would represent an extra 11p a week, or £5.76 a year, going to the council for the average Band D property.

East Anglian Daily Times: West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds. The first West Suffolk Council meeting took place on May 22 Picture: ARCHANT

With about 70% of properties in the district being band A to C, however, the majority of residents would be paying less.

The council has also committed not to significantly change car parking charges across the district, with small amendments being proposed.

In general, parking fees would not be going up. In Bury St Edmunds existing charges would stay at £3 and £4 for two and three hours respectively, with the council keeping parking free after 3pm on Tuesdays.

Free parking in smaller towns will remain.

However, the council is proposing to abolish the £1 overnight charge for Bury St Edmunds, while extending parking tariffs from 6pm to 8pm.

In addition, following resident requests for the increase in parking time at Cattle Market car park, the council is proposing an hour’s extension, making it £6 for four hours.

These changes are coupled with a £440,000 car parking investment package, which will see resurfacing and additional EV charging points, to be delivered over the next two years.

It is part of West Suffolk Council’s budget proposals – the first proposed by the West Suffolk Progressive Alliance which took over from the Conservative administration last May – for the next financial year which addresses the £5m gap left by national financial pressures.

East Anglian Daily Times: Council leader Cliff WatermanCouncil leader Cliff Waterman (Image: MARIAM GHAEMI)

Council leader Cliff Waterman said the proposed budget represents an ambitious investment in the district while remaining prudent about the future.

He added: “We’re very excited to present the budget to the public because it’s a very positive one — there are no nasty surprises in there.

“It invests in West Suffolk’s future, it improves services, and it keeps charges low.

“All our investments are in West Suffolk and within our community, none of them are about just making profits.”

Like other councils in the region, the proposed budget also includes the introduction of a 100 per cent council tax premium for second homes to encourage owners to bring them to market and help relieve housing pressures.

This is part of the council’s plans to have available affordable housing, which includes a £100,000 provision for the use of a Housing Revenue Account (HRA) which could see the council build homes for social housing and affordable rents in the future.

East Anglian Daily Times: Deputy leader Victor LukaniukDeputy leader Victor Lukaniuk (Image: Archant)

Deputy leader Victor Lukaniuk said: “This budget is going to give us stability not just for a year, for two years and beyond.

“I see the future, I’m encouraged by it and I’m delighted to be part of the administration because there are no skeletons coming out of the cupboard.”

Other investments proposed in the budget include a £13m capital investment in improvements to parks, open spaces, and leisure facilities, a £300,000 fund for Abbeycroft to protect swimming pool closures, and a £200,000 investment in the council’s grounds maintenance service.

The council’s spending, Cllr Waterman says, will be supported by responsible investment which does not put pressure on the council’s reserves.

He explained: “We’re not dipping into our reserves, we need to keep those at the level they’re at because if there are any unforeseen changes, to government policy for instance, we have got a guarantee we can weather those.”

In terms of borrowing, although the council does not exclude the possibility of doing it if rates are low enough, it does not have plans to do so for at least the next year.

East Anglian Daily Times: Cllr Diane HindCllr Diane Hind (Image: MARIAM GHAEMI)

Cllr Diane Hind, cabinet member for resources, says: “We don’t want to borrow unnecessarily, we want to do it at the right time when the rates are lowest.

“We’re still investing in essential services and even increasing them where we can.”

The budget plans will be looked at by members of the council’s performance and audit scrutiny committee on 25 January before going to cabinet and full council.