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Wycombe District Council to keep council tax precept flat

James Harrison

Families in Wycombe District are set to be give some respite from rising council tax bills.

On the same day members of Buckinghamshire County Council had recommended hikes of about five per cent, Wycombe District Council's cabinet gave the green light to a budget which will keep its own precept flat for the next financial year.

Introducing the budget on Monday, Cllr David Watson (Con, Flackwell Heath and Little Marlow), cabinet member for Finance and Resources, was reasonably upbeat about the local authority's spending plans.

He said: "Happily, the council has, because of what has gone on in the past and because of past leaders and current leaders, the major projects have been put in place which will generate more income.

"Overall, that would suggest there's a sort of 'standstill' position for 2017/18.

"It is the considered view that we should not pass on a council tax rise unless there is a need for is and so no council tax rise is proposed for the year ahead."

However, he also sounded a note of caution, adding: "We need to be aware of the longer term projects and that will require the increasing of incomes which the council can generate.

"We need to do what we can to invest wisely."

Cllr David Johncock (Con, Flackwell Heath and Little Marlow), cabinet member for Planning, made a last ditch appeal to get extra funding for his department, even offering to put together a business case to explain in greater detail why he thought it necessary.

But Cllr Watson refused to be drawn, simply saying he was aware of the issues and that any request for money from the council's contingency fund would be 'considered'.

The budget, which will see the precept paid on a Band D property stay at £131.99, is expected to be approved at full council on Thursday, February 23.

The meeting also approved plans for a local lottery to be established in the district.

It is hoped the scheme, which will cost £3,000 to set up, will raise thousands of pounds for charities and other good causes.

Despite general support, Cllr Tony Lee (Con, Bourne End cum Hedsor), deputy cabinet member for housing, queried whether people would actually sign up to buy tickets through direct debit, as is proposed.

His concerns were brushed aside by council leader Katrina Wood (Con, Tylers Green and Loudwater), who said: "I think we will have to try it and see."

Visit www.wycombe.gov.uk to find out more about the budget.

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