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COUNCIL TAX: North Somerset bills to increase by more than £87

COUNCIL TAX: North Somerset bills to increase by more than £87

Image: LDRS

North Somerset residents will see their bills increase by more than £87 from April.

This week North Somerset Council signed off a nearly five per cent increase to its budget, promising to help the district “build back better” after the pandemic.

It includes a £700,000 investment in the “great lakes” in Weston-super-Mare, Portishead and Clevedon, £150,000 to give respite to carers, and more than £1.5million for the area’s highways and byways.

Charges for police and fire services are also going up, and one parish council is asking residents to pay a third more.

Councillor Ash Cartman, North Somerset Council’s executive member for finances, told the budget-setting meeting on February 23: “We are a council of many colours and this has truly been a budget built on collaboration and teamwork.

“We want to invest in the future and build back better. We want to deliver on our promise to be open, fair and green.

“It’s definitely been a difficult year. We faced a £26million shortfall at the end of July because of the Covid pressures but a combination of our in-year savings and government support means we will end the year with a balanced budget.

“The total capital budget is now over a third of a billion pounds, which includes significant spending on things such as the Portishead railway.

“Last week we announced that we were going to invest £700,000 in our Great Lakes and residents have nearly been universally in support of that.

“We’re putting an extra £1.25million into highways to maintain our roads.

“We’ll be investing an additional £300,000 in our public rights of way.

“The majority of the money that the council spends goes on caring for children and vulnerable adults, from the cradle to the grave. We’ve allocated over £150,000 to help carers.”

Cllr Cartman told a media briefing the council has exciting plans for the Sovereign Centre, a new lease has been signed for the Seaquarium, the compulsory purchase of Birnbeck Pier is pressing ahead, and now a working party is being set up to sort the Tropicana.

“We want it to be a destination and somewhere people actively come to Weston for – like a Dismaland 2,” he said. “It could be an arts or entertainment venue. It has to draw people in.”

Cllr Mike Bell told the media briefing the council had benefited from cooperation across the political spectrum – after years under a “one-party state” led by the Conservatives – allowing better decisions to be made.

“I’ve been a councillor for 20 years. This is the first budget in a decade of austerity where I feel optimistic we’ll be making North Somerset better. For the last 10 years it’s been about what we can cut.”

The authority is increasing council tax by 1.99 per cent, the maximum allowed without a referendum, and charging an extra three per cent that will be ring-fenced for adult social care.

That means the average band D property will pay it £71.53 more from April than it did this year.

Police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens had proposed a £15 hike for households across Avon and Somerset but was vetoed by councillors. Her revised budget will see residents pay an extra £13.39.

Avon Fire Authority has increased its portion of council tax by 1.99 per cent, asking for an extra £1.49.

On average North Somerset’s town and parish councils are increasing their precepts by 1.68 per cent. The biggest outlier is Barrow Gurney Parish Council, which has approved a 34 per cent hike. It is charging band D properties £59.52, up from £44.27.

In total the average band D household in North Somerset will pay £1,900.21 in 2021/22, up from £1,812.52 this year.

Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter


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