Protests as council freezes tax

Lincolnshire County Council agreed at a full council meeting on Friday to freeze its share of the council tax for 2011/12, when bills are sent out this March.

The City of Lincoln Council previously said there will be no council tax increase until 2012, though council tax will rise by 2.5% in both 2012/13 and 2013/14.

The freeze in the County Council’s share of the council tax has been made possible by a government grant to authorities which agree to keep future rises to 2.5% or below.

The announcement comes as the County Council lost 28% of its grant funding over the next four years, having to deal with a shortfall of £125 million.

Despite the reduction in the grant, the council said it would protect front line services, though it will reduce or stop other non-essential services.

Rage against the cuts

Dozens of people gathered outside Lincolnshire County Council to protest against the cuts.

Cuts will be applied to children’s services, culture and adult education, economic regeneration, adult social care, trading standards and youth offending.

Dozens of UNISON members protested against the cuts proposed by the Lincolnshire County Council at the Newland offices on Friday (pictured).

Lincolnshire County Council proposals will see 818 people take voluntary or compulsory redundancies, the equivalent of about 607 full-time jobs.

More than 650 staff have expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy.

Some services protected

Among the services which will be wholly or largely protected will be 150 police community support officers.

The council will provide a total of £1.5 million to Lincolnshire Police Authority to pay the officers next year, helping to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.

The council chose to protect safeguarding of children, fire and rescue, winter road gritting and emergency planning, on the grounds of public safety.

County Council Portfolio Holder for Finance Councillor Kelly Smith said: “This is the toughest financial settlement for years.

“The council also faces increasing costs, particularly for caring for the growing numbers of elderly people in the county.

“Energy prices are also rising and the council is taking on new responsibilities for flood management and concessionary bus fares.

“Whilst we are committed to frontline services some additional charges are being introduced in some areas.

“This includes adult social care where new charges are being introduced. However, these charges will reflect people’s ability to pay.

“Post-16 transport charges will also increase – although we will continue to fund this at a greater level than most councils.

“Non-essential services such as Trading Standards, rights of way and teenage services will be scaled back,” Smith explained.