Freeze on council tax in Welwyn Hatfield

THE “big freeze” has claimed yet another victim – although it’s unlikely residents in Times Territory will be complaining this time.

Hertfordshire County Council announced last week it was proposing to freeze its share of the council tax for 2010/11, with Welwyn Hatfield Council also set to follow suit.

It means residents living in Welwyn Hatfield would not have to pay any more than they did last year to the two local authorities – although the proposals still need to be approved in February.

Conservative Robert Gordon, leader of the county council, said the freeze would be possible through making “efficiency savings” – reducing the cost of running a service while at the same time maintaining service levels.

But he conceded that, in order to supplement the zero increase, some council workers could face the chop.

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“It’s about looking at every aspect of how we run the organisation,” he said.

“Every time there’s a contract up for renewal, we need to say ‘is there a way we can do this better, and cheaper, but retain the quality of service?’.

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“Obviously one of our biggest expenditures is staff salaries, and in looking at becoming more efficient, we’ll also be looking at staffing costs and levels. This means we will be employing fewer people.”

But Cllr Gordon insisted the cuts will not be made in front line services.

He added that 2010/11 could be the beginning of a three-year freeze for taxpayers – provided the Conservatives win the next General Election.

“I’m confident that, providing we’ve got a Tory Government, this will turn into a three-year freeze,” he said.

If the proposals are approved, Welwyn Hatfield residents living in Band D properties will continue to pay the county council �1,118.83 a year, and an additional �184.02 a year to the borough council.

But that’s not to say their tax bill won’t still increase.

Hertfordshire Police Authority, which has a 10 per cent share of council tax, is currently considering up to a 15 per cent rise in its precept – about an extra �20 a year. And precepts from town and parish councils also add to the final amount.

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