North Lincolnshire council tax increase set as ultra-modern library plans announced

A new library has been announced for Scunthorpe while a rise in council tax has been confirmed for North Lincolnshire.

Council tax payers in face a 3.74 per cent rise, made up of 1.99 per cent core council tax and a 1.75 per cent increase on the adult social care precept. Two-thirds of North Lincolnshire households, those in Band A and B properties, will pay less than £0.92 extra a week. The increase is the lowest in the Humber region with the other authorities opting for rises of almost 5 per cent.

It comes as North Lincolnshire Council set its budget for 2024/25, with plans for an ultra-modern library in the town centre also announced.

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The opposition Labour group expressed concern about the council’s finances in the medium term, and have highlighted plans to not fill vacancies of more than three months. The budget and council tax rise were agreed on Monday (February 26) after the original meeting on February 22 had to be abandoned because a man was taken ill. He was taken to hospital.

During the first meeting, Conservative council leader Cllr Rob Waltham announced a new library in Scunthorpe town centre. New homes and office space will also be associated with this development, which will involve the existing library’s revamp. The council will have a commercial partner to develop the project.

“Through the last year we have made major strides in our firm commitment to improving outcomes for everyone in North Lincolnshire,” said Cllr Waltham, on the budget’s passing. “The Government has backed the communities across North Lincolnshire with tens of millions of pounds to create a new future, and we will continue to build on that. It is important to remember that the majority of the money we spend comes from government.

“We have backed a small increase this year and have detailed plans for how we will use that money to ensure residents see improvements to their lives. We’re backing schools with extra cash, we’re supporting more free swimming sessions, recommitting to giving every child a free book every month until their fifth birthday and increasing the community grant funding.”

Cllr Waltham said the authority was committed to more tree planting, and further investment in family hubs. He argued it was an inclusive budget that regenerates North Lincolnshire, and keeps council tax as low as possible.

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Labour had their concerns. Cllr Lorraine Yeadon noted plans to make savings by not recruiting for longer-term vacancies, saying: “Following a mass exodus of senior staff over the last year and the knock-on effect of other staff leaving, there has been a significant number of vacancies at North Lincolnshire Council. Unfortunately, not all vacancies have been filled.

“Now, North Lincolnshire Council has come up with a cunning plan. The plan is that if a vacancy is not filled within three months it will simply be removed. The job with disappear. But, of course, the work that is needed done will not disappear. I suggest that the work could not be absorbed by existing staff as they already have a full workload.”

She predicted this would hinder the likes of bin collections, where there have been issues with recently, or pothole repairs, adding: “And tragically we may see help for the most vulnerable in our society limited further and delays becoming longer.”

At the first meeting, Labour’s group leader Cllr Len Foster also warned of the council’s difficult financial position in the years ahead. “The motion put before us takes £4m out of our diminishing reserves,” said Cllr Foster of the 3.74 per cent council tax rise passed by the ruling Conservative group.

Cllr Len Foster, pictured, said he was agog
Cllr Len Foster, pictured, said he was ‘agog’ at the decision to not increase the adult social care precept by the maximum legally allowed without a referendum

He also questioned the decision to not raise the adult social care precept by the maximum two per cent level permitted without a referendum. Referring to Cllr Richard Hannigan, whose cabinet responsibilities include adult and health care, he said: “I am agog, agog is the only word I can use, to see that this council isn’t increasing the amount of money for adult social care that it’s legally entitled to do.

“I wish Cllr Hannigan all the luck in the world over the next three years managing that budget with a reduced amount of budget coming in.”

Original artice: https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/all-about/scunthorpe

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