HAILSHAM: Wealden freezes its share of council tax

WITH consumers hit by a nationwide 2.5 per cent rise in VAT this week, taxpayers will receive a respite after Wealden announced plans to freeze its share of council tax payments for 2011.

The council has been forced to bring forward a number of money-saving measures after the Government front-loaded spending cuts.

This meant that the central government grant was slashed by 28 per cent over two years rather than the expected four.

But Wealden’s corporate services director Nigel Hannam said Wealden could weather the storm.

“To a large extent, we are in a relatively good position because of the work we have already done.

“We were predicting a 35 per cent reduction and that is broadly correct over four years.

“We are reviewing all of the transformation programme options that we put forward back in October to look at those which we can bring forward early.”

This could include joining up with other local authorities in East Sussex including Eastbourne, to implement a joint waste collection contract.

Council leader Cllr Bob Standley said Wealden is on course to make savings of £1.8 million.

“The transformation programme, which was launched three years ago, is bearing fruit and we will continue to keep council tax increases as low as possible and broadly in line with inflation,” he said.

“The council has agreed joint working with our neighbour, Rother District Council and that, together with a number of major savings initiatives at the council including a more effective contact centre response to our customers’ enquiries, will lead to further savings.”

A final decision on Wealden’s budget will be made at the full council meeting which will be held in February.

If given the go-ahead, an average Band D property in Wealden will pay £174.06 this year - £3.35 a week.

The full household council tax bill includes additional amounts for East Sussex County Council, which will be set in February, Sussex Police, East Sussex Fire & Rescue and local parish and town councils.