Thu, 02 Mar 2017
A DECISION on whether to increase council tax by almost five per cent will be made at a meeting tonight (Thursday).
West Berkshire Council needs to make savings of £8m in 2017/18 and has come up with a proposed budget in order to achieve it.
It includes increasing parking charges in the council-run car parks in Newbury, Thatcham, Theale, Hungerford and Pangbourne.
On-street parking could also be introduced near Thatcham Station.
Children over the age of 16 with special educational needs and disabilities may be asked to pay £703 to get the bus to school – a service that is currently free.
Funding to Citizens Advice is also set to be slashed by almost a third.
Funding for road safety and highways and drainage maintenance is proposed to be cut by reducing the number of road safety officers from two to one.
Around £1m is set to be cut from frontline services – those which impact residents – while the remainder is expected to be found from internal redundancies and the council tax rise.
The Conservative-run council will also decide where it will allocate £1.4m of transitional funding.
It received the money from central government as a way of softening the cuts and allowing organisations affected more time to adjust.
The opposing Liberal Democrat group is expected to put forward three amendments.
Lib Dem leader Lee Dillon said: “To consider making cuts in drainage maintenance, when so many people have been affected by flooding, is negligent.
“We are proposing that the council takes some of the transitional funding it is planning to put back into reserves and use it to stop the cuts to drainage maintenance instead.”
The Lib Dems are also proposing to reduce the parking increase on the first hour by 10p, with the shortfall being met by increasing the costs on some longer stay options.