District Council freezes council tax as EDF row is resolved
district councillors have set their budget for coming financial
year and have announced they are to freeze
their portion of council tax bills in the Burnham-On-Sea area.
comes after a row broke out at the last meeting earlier this month,
causing it to be postponed, as Burnham-On-Sea.com reported here.
dispute broke out between EDF Energy, the firm behind the planned
expansion of Hinkley Point power station, and the council over
the cost of assessing its planning application.
council claimed that EDF was refusing to pay for assessing the
plans and that this would mean it would have to increase council
tax rates to fund the work.
negotiations have since taken place between the council and EDF,
which has said it will pay "reasonable" costs for the
work - thereby allowing the council to freeze plans for a council
the reconvened council meeting on Friday afternoon (February 24th),
councillors and members of the public heard how Sedgemoor has
achieved a balanced budget, despite an increasingly tough financial
District Council tax payers will not foot the bill for the forthcoming
work to allow for appropriate and proper challenge during the
IPC process associated to the proposed power station at Hinkley
Point C," council spokeswoman Claire Faun told Burnham-On-Sea.com.
of today, the discussions with EDF are not yet concluded. SDC
are still considering a wide range of options that will allow
for a level of participation in the examination process. There
will be a further report as to the range of options available
to Sedgemoor District Councils Executive on 14th March,
and then to be debated at Full Council on 28th March."
of £800,000 have been achieved by the council through a
"managed use of balances" and no cuts to services or
jobs have been made.
savings have come from the continuation of work with parishes
to use parish and town precepts, sharing office accommodation,
a continuation of 'Value for Money Reviews', expanding the clean
surrounds service to bring in additional income, external income
from major projects and maximising external income.
council has also set aside £500,000 over two years to bring
empty homes back into housing use. This new initiative is intended
to bring 100 of the 560 empty properties in Sedgemoor back into
use and help residents on the housing waiting list.
growth items of £89,000 were £18,000
to carry out two additional highway weed sprayings on Sedgemoors
roads. This replaces the service formerly provided by Somerset
is also to be spent on maintaining grass verges to supplement
the service formerly provided by Somerset County Council. And
£60,000 is to be spent on supporting housing services which
is under increased workloads due to the financial climate. Also,
further £50,000 will go towards the voluntary sector, which
plays a vital role in supporting communities. The Conservative
Group's budget proposals were accepted. The Labour group put forward
an alternative budget which was defeated.
leader Duncan McGinty, pictured, said: "For many years, we
have kept our portion of the council tax as low as possible, whilst
continuing to maintain and improve services. This council is proud
of that record and now, when prices are rising on so many products,
it is more important than ever that we keep the council tax as
low as possible."
"Again this year we are helped by the Governments
commitment to provide funding equivalent to 2.5% of our council
tax revenue thus easing the pressure on local tax payers."
"We know this is for one year only and as such this will
put some added pressure on future years but in a time when so
many of our households are seeing rising prices, we feel that
freezing the council tax for the coming year is the right thing
"We know that the future will be uncertain and we know there
will be challenges and that is why where we can invest new money
into council services we have done so on a short term basis so
as not to overburden the budget in future years. Pound for pound,
we are still the lowest Band D equivalent across the county and
we are committed to remain as such."
"Therefore, council tax for Sedgemoor in the coming year
will be fixed at an average of £130.65, or just £2.51
per week. So this budget is not just about next year or indeed
about this council - it is about the future for our residents
with continued and, I hope expanded, services across the district
as we move into a new era locally."