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Budget given go ahead by councillors

February 24, 2010 12:21 PM
In Royal Borough Observer - Online

OUNCIL tax will be reduced in the Royal Borough after the budget was approved last night. (Tuesday)

Conservative councillors voted to approve the plans which will see Band D council tax fall by more than £41 - which is one of the biggest reductions in the country.

Lead member for finance Cllr Richard Kellaway said: "Our aim is to provide better services for less money and we have been able to achieve this unprecedented reduction by careful financial management. There is no magic wand - just meticulous scrutiny of our resources and making every penny work.

"Front line services are being protected but we have carried out a far-reaching restructure to make sure our back room support is as efficient as it can be. We are aiming to create a lean organisation that is fighting fit and able to maintain and improve the services our residents depend on every day of their lives.As a result of this budget our taxpayers will be better off by £209 since we came to power and I'm very proud of that."

However, during the full council meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors obstained from the vote claiming they had fears about the budget.

The opposition claimed the proposals failed to support the elderly and vulnerable in the borough and would see residents hit with stealth taxes.

Cllr Bruce Adams said: "For those on the lowest council tax band the cut in council tax amounts to 8p per day. Even if you want to try and save the pennies up, you won't be able to go for long before having to use cash to pay for the tory stealth taxes."

Redundancies were just one way in which the council has managed to save money. Other ways include re-tendering the school transport contract, introducing smart metering to help save energy in council buildings.

Leader of the Council David Burbage said: "Regrettably we had to face the fact that, in common with local authorities across the country, we could not manage the council effectively in the current economic climate without an impact on jobs.

"However, we have worked hard to keep redundancies to the absolute minimum and residents should be reassured that services will be maintained - and in many cases improved - using more efficient ways of working and equipping people with new skills.In this hard economic environment it's vital that people are left with as much of their own money as possible.

"Our council has proved that we can make public services better and cut tax at the same time. There's a huge amount of waste in the system and we should never forget that it's taxpayers' money we are spending,"he added.

The new budget also means continuing investment in projects such as a new lesiure centre in Cox Green and a new borough museum at Windsor's Guildhall.