Forest Heath: Opposition group touts rival budget

OPPOSITION members at a Suffolk council have put forward their own budget plans to rival to the official version set to be agreed tonight.

The Tory-led Forest Heath District Council is poised to agree a freeze in council tax tonight when members vote on the budget drafted by the authority’s own officers.

However, in an unexpected twist, opposition members have come up with their own rival scheme which actually recommends an increase in the council tax.

The 2.9% increase in Forest Heath’s council taxt recommended by the Labour and Liberal Democrat opposition would help pay for market regeneration, tidying up the town centres and getting empty homes back into use.

Tim Huggan, leader of the opposition group said: “Over the last few years we have seen our Markets decline, our town centres get dirtier and the number of empty homes increase. I hope that our budget proposals will do a bit to help reverse this general sense of decline.”

Labour’s Mick Jefferys said “Newmarket is the shop window for Forest Heath on the outside world. If we are to attract jobs and people, our town centres must look clean and tidy.”

Neil Williams , Lib Dem, said: “This small increase in Council Tax together with the reduction in members allowances will help plug the gap in Forest Heath’s finances before it ceases to be able to provide basic services like emptying our bins.”

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Speaking previously to the EADT, council leader James Waters praised officers for coming up with a budget that kept council tax at its current levels.

Under the council’s proposed budget, Band D properties would continue to pay �137.43 each year.

Key aims outlined in the finacial plan for 2012/2013 are making further savings, improving efficiency, maximising revenue from assets and constantly reviewing how services are provided.