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Council tax freeze proposed for South Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 09:55 09 February 2010 | UPDATED: 09:13 01 August 2010

Adam Gretton

Householders in south Norfolk are set to face a freeze in their council tax bills this year, despite warnings that a district council should be saving for a rainy day.

Householders in south Norfolk are set to face a freeze in their council tax bills this year, despite warnings that a district council should be saving for a rainy day.

Economic officials had recommended a 1.86pc increase in South Norfolk Council's precept from April in order to prepare for predicted cuts in government grants.

But members of the authority's cabinet yesterday recommended a zero per cent rise in council tax for 2010/11 to help residents struggling in the aftermath of the recession.

Officers at the district council, which is looking into sharing services with neighbour Breckland Council, had recommended putting another £110,000 into its £5m reserves to cope with the forecasted 5pc reductions in government grant support over the next three years.

But the council's Conservative leaders yesterday agreed to plough that money into freezing council tax for the second time in three years, despite warnings that the decision will put added pressure on the 2011/12 budget.

It comes as the council also looks to create a combined head of finance role between South Norfolk Council and Breckland Council as a result of two vacancies at the authorities.

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller recommended the tax freeze following a meeting with his fellow Tory councillors on Sunday .

“It is so tough out there at the moment and I am just uncomfortable about putting money into reserves to feather our beds for an election year. If there is a year to hand something back to residents then this is it.”

Stephen Beeson, head of accountancy at South Norfolk Council, said the new recommendations by cabinet were “manageable”, but further savings would need to be found next year. A final decision will be made by councillors on February 22.

Councillor Garry Wheatley, who leads for the council on the budget, added that the council was in an “extremely strong” financial position following the £2m savings it made last year, which resulted in the loss of 40 jobs.

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