BUDGET: Hikes in fees to plug gaps in the budget

BOSTON residents are set to see no borough council tax increase for the fourth year in a row – but they will feel the pinch in other areas.

People living in the borough will face hikes in parking, leisure centre fees and even funeral costs, but the portoin of the council tax they pay for borough services will remain at £168.39 for a band D property.

The council proudly proclaimed this week that despite the rate remaining the same there would be no impact on services for residents in the borough, and, in fact, several big capital projects were set to take place over the next year.

At a meeting of the corporate and community committee on Thursday, portfolio holder for finance Coun Raymond Singleton-Maguire said: “The good news is there is no council tax increase. We are introducing new services and replacing the refuse fleet at no extra cost to the public.

“This budget delivers more value for the buck.”

As well as the new refuse fleet, new cremators have been planned for the crematorium, at a cost of about £450,000. The cost of funerals is being increased by £100 to fund the change.

The cost of parking is to rise by ten pence per tariff. Evening charges will also be increased and blue badge holders will be made to pay for their spaces.

It is hoped these changes will save the council around £126,000 in the first year, and £166,000 a year thereafter, in a move towards plugging a projected £1.13 million budget deficit in the next five years. Other savings, which could save the council £130,000 a year, will be made through sharing facilities and services with other local authorities and organisations.

Council leader Peter Bedford said: “This is ensuring we continue to provide core council services but that we do so in the most cost-efficient way.”

But not everybody was so positive about the budget. Scrutiny committee chairman Coun Paul Kenny said: “It’s an ambitious plan. People in Boston would love to see a lot of these things happen, but it’s got to be beyond words. It’s about actions.”

The budget proposals will now go on to be considered by the council’s cabinet at its February 22 meeting.