Tax freeze sees delay in children's service cuts
Cuts to children's centres have been delayed after council chiefs in Bath promised to protect frontline services.
Bath and North East Somerset Council this week voted to freeze council tax for a third year and committed itself to £3 million worth of cuts over the next 12 months.
The freeze means the B&NES share of the council tax for a Band D property will remain at £1,201.85.
Initial proposals to cut the early years and children's centres budget by nearly 40 per cent over the next three years were shelved by the Liberal Democrat leadership after Labour councillors said they would only support the overall budget if money from the council's reserves and the Government's New Homes Bonus was used to defer the decision until next year.
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The council said changes to government funding were forcing it to make £30 million worth of savings over the next three years.
B&NES will now push ahead with plans to introduce admission charges for touring exhibitions at the Victoria Art Gallery, a reduction in the mobile library service and the closure of some public toilets – although it has agreed to try to protect toilets in Larkhall and Weston.
The council said it would continue with a £151 million capital programme including a £32 million transportation package, £500,000 investment on cycle routes, providing 375 new school places over the next three years and completing the £34 million revamp of Keynsham town centre.
Council leader Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib Dem, Southdown), said: "As a council we recognise that times are hard for our residents. It's simply not fair to ask them to pay more where less is provided."
The budget came under heavy criticism from opposition Tories, saying important services were still being cut.
They were able to secure agreement for a review of funding in the hope of keeping free short-stay car parking in Keynsham while the town hall development is completed, but an attempt to spend £1 million from a council fund for gypsy and traveller sites on maintaining the district's roads failed.