Wiltshire

Wiltshire Council freezes council tax for a third year

County councillors in Wiltshire have frozen council tax for the third year running.

At a meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed to a budget of £330m for the coming year.

The Tory-run council, however, said it would be making £32m of savings by closing council offices, cutting posts and "working more efficiently".

The Lib-Dem proposals to bring back one-hour free parking and free swimming for the over 60s were rejected.

The council's component of the tax makes up 80% of what residents pay. The rest goes to the police, fire service and parish councils.

Authorities that freeze council tax are eligible for a grant equivalent to a 2.5% increase in their share of the levy.

Council leader Jane Scott said: "Interestingly enough in our financial plan we had already got a 0% increase in council tax so to us it was an added bonus that the government gave us a grant.

"I can't rule it out but I'll do everything I possibly can not to increase council tax next year."

In 2012/13 government funding will decrease by £3.2m.

According to the council "this, combined with the rising costs of goods and services and the need for additional funding to meet the needs of Wiltshire's growing number of older people and children, means the council must make efficiencies of £32.6m".

But according to Ms Scott "nobody is losing out".

"We're becoming more efficient," she said.

"Sadly there are job losses, there are always going to be job losses because every council works mostly on staff but we are making a lot of efficiencies by taking waste and bureaucracy out of the system."

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