Council’s financial plans up for debate

Chorley Town Hall
Chorley Town Hall

Proposals to freeze council tax and invest more than £1m in services will be debated on Tuesday.

Chorley Council will hold its budget meeting to decide if the Labour administration’s plans should be approved.

They want to keep council tax at its current level, while investing £1.3m in various projects, such as expanding the food bank and improvements to the town centre.

But they are likely to face opposition from Conservative councillors, who believe some money should be kept in reserves.

Coun Peter Wilson, deputy council leader, said: “When you look at what else is happening, not just around the country but in neighbouring areas like Preston, I hope residents see that the council has done a great job in balancing the books and finding room to invest in services at a time when other authorities are cutting theirs.”

The council claims the proceeds from Market Walk and money from the New Homes Bonus will allow it to balance the budget, despite a 13.5 per cent cut in its Government grant.

Coun Wilson said: “We have benefitted from New Homes Bonus money, but it’s only right we get that as we have had a lot of development in the borough.

“We could have just sat back and used that to fill the budget gap, but we have continued to look at how we can run the organisation better and the £1m in savings we have made over the last year, coupled with income we are bringing in through things like the purchase of Market Walk, mean we can use the New Homes Bonus money to invest in services people say matter to them.”

But Coun Greg Morgan, leader of Chorley’s Conservatives, plans to propose an alternative budget.

He said: “Some of their spending plans could be curtailed to off-set the deficit expected over the coming years.

“We are concerned that they have highlighted half a dozen areas where they think they can reduce costs, but they have no actual plans for doing so.

“They will be relying on the New Homes Bonus to fill that gap. They refer to the New Homes Bonus as windfall money, but they are using it to plug gaps in the budget.

“We think they could be more cautious with the money of the council tax-payers of Chorley.”

The meeting starts at 6.30pm on Tuesday at Chorley Town Hall.