Council criticised for funding ‘gimmicks’ after proposed tax rise

A council tax increase of 2.6% has been proposed in Colchester Borough Council's 2020/21 budget Pict

A council tax increase of 2.6% has been proposed in Colchester Borough Council's 2020/21 budget Picture: JESSICA HILL - Credit: Archant

A rise in council tax for Colchester residents has been criticised, with opponents saying its rulers have funded “gimmicks” instead of public services.

The elephant sculpture due to be built in Cowdray Avenue is one project the Conservatives have calle

The elephant sculpture due to be built in Cowdray Avenue is one project the Conservatives have called 'gimmicky' Image: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Colchester Borough Council's cabinet will meet on January 29 to vote on the 2020/21 budget, which could see a 2.6% rise on its element of the council tax - an extra £4.95 a month.

The authority says it costs about £20million annually to provide all the services residents and businesses use in the borough.

It also argued that its budget, which would mean the fourth council tax increase since 2010, also incudes £1.8m in savings and new income for the authority.

But Lewis Barber, deputy leader of the opposition Conservative group on the council, said: "Conservatives believe in people keeping more of their money and we want to keep tax low.

David King, Colchester Borough Council’s cabinet member for business and resources Picture: COLCHEST

David King, Colchester Borough Councils cabinet member for business and resources Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant


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"A Conservative council would prioritise front line services and infrastructure rather than gimmicks, such as the rusty elephant on the roundabout, which causes taxes to rise and important services to be cut."

The elephant statue is part of the council's Fixing the Link project and includes CCTV installation between the town centre and Colchester North station.

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However David King, portfolio holder for resources on the Liberal Democrat-run council, said: "We are investing in regeneration, to a strategic plan agreed with the opposition.

"That includes the elephant sculpture but also lighting, CCTV and landscaping, with tree planting to come."

Colchester Conservatives deputy leader, Lewis Barber Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

Colchester Conservatives deputy leader, Lewis Barber Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

The council will continue to offer relief to residents most in need through their Local Council Tax Support scheme.

The Better Colchester campaign will also continue to get support, with water fountains, street patrols and a fly tipping crackdown to the town.

There will also be investment in schemes supporting the council's climate emergency declaration.

Mr King added: "We know that councils - ourselves included - continue to face some exceptionally intense and difficult financial pressures.

"Our budget will allow us to continue to provide high-quality services and to invest in long-term projects such as Northern Gateway.

"But it also keeps money back in reserves and balances to ensure we can support those in need."

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