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Have your say: County Council agrees budget cuts

County Hall, the cenre of North Yorkshire County Council

County Hall, the cenre of North Yorkshire County Council

A 1.99 per cent rise in council tax was this week agreed at the 2014-15 budget meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive (NYCC).

The council is bidding to make £73million of savings over the coming years, representing a reduction in its spending power of 34 per cent.

The authority’s executive met this week to discuss the 2014-15 budget, agreeing to spend £5m on highways and review services which could lead to the closure of children’s centres and libraries.

After three years of frozen council tax bills, NYCC’s executive unanimously agreed the 1.99 per cent increase - a move which would provide income of around £4.6m.

This week’s recommendations will be considered by full council later this month.

Saltergate County Coun Don Mackenzie (Con) is NYCC executive member for public health and prevention.

He said: “We expect the full council to approve the recommendations of the cabinet.

“I thought as far as the council was concerned the risks involved in the savings we have to make are so great that we couldn’t really go ahead with the council tax freezes.”

However, Knaresborough County Coun Bill Hoult (Lib Dem) will not support the rise.

Coun Hoult said: “I personally do not think there is a justification for these rises.

“It is in among other cuts and there are question marks.

“The council is asking people to pay more across the board, and then saying by the way, we are going to put your council tax up as well. I do not think it is right or necessary.”

Pateley Bridge County Coun John Fort (Con) responded to 2014-15 budget recommendations.

He said: “We are in a situation now where frontline services will be affected by the budget.

“I think in the circumstances an increase is inevitable because at the end of the day it is only a debt that will have to be sorted out in the future.

“I think another freeze would be irresponsible.”

Other proposals agreed by the executive include a review of early years provision, including children’s centres, which will examine new ways of delivery, in tandem with other services such as youth services and libraries.

The review is likely to result in the closure of some children’s centres, although front line work will work be protected.

A reduction of £750,000 in the winter maintenance budget was also agreed. The authority plans to achieve this through efficiency savings and not by reducing the proportion of the highways network which currently receives severe weather protection.

The closure of household waste sites is also possible.

NYCC chief executive Richard Flinton said: “The scale of the reduction is unprecedented in the life of the county council, and in modern local government as a whole.

“Whilst savings to date have largely protected the frontline, the next stage will require radically different ways of working.”

A Nidderdale politician has claimed it would cost at least £200million to repair North Yorkshire’s road network.

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