Council tax to rise for households in Forest Heath

West Suffolk House (Council Offices) in Bury. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

West Suffolk House (Council Offices) in Bury. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Households in Forest Heath will pay more for their council tax from April after councillors unanimously backed budget proposals.

The rise will see the average household in Forest Heath paying £3.85 more per year in council tax – £4.95 per year for those living in a Band D property – but it remains the lowest in Suffolk.

The council says the budget is aimed at protecting services, creating prosperity and meeting national and local financial challenges.

The authority added that they were able to keep council tax low due to good financial planning and investments such as the Toggam Solar Farm – which brought in around £300,000 last year.

Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury Borough Council have been given the support of the secretary of state to form a single council for west Suffolk in 2019.

The planned increase in council tax was in last year’s budget proposals and would have to be made whether the council formed a single council or not to meet the reduced national funding.

Councillor James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: “Making every pound stretch as far as possible is part of our council’s DNA.

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“But we have never been just about keeping the lights on. We want to provide high quality services while investing in projects with our communities to their improve health and wellbeing as well as making sure we continue to grow our economy.

“This budget makes sure we can protect services while creating prosperity.”

Stephen Edwards, portfolio holder for resources and performance, said: “Forest Heath is seen nationally as leading transformation of local government. “While many authorities are cutting services and increasing council tax by the maximum, we have invested in schemes such as Toggam Solar Farm which has provided an income of £300,000 this year and will rise to £700,000 by year ten.

“Our proposed budget means we can continue to drive jobs, improve the economy and work closely with our communities to invest more in local initiatives with our residents.

“At the same time our forward planning means we have been able to keep our council tax to the lowest in Suffolk so that we can meet the financial challenges without reducing services.

“No-one wants to put up council tax but the majority of Forest Heath residents will be paying around 7p a week extra or £3.85 a year.

“At the same time we will be able to build on our successes and invest in more opportunities that help to manage growth and continue to bring prosperity to Forest Heath.”