25th Mar, 2019

Solihull council tax rise set as chiefs seek budget go-ahead

Felix Nobes 26th Feb, 2019 Updated: 26th Feb, 2019

COUNCIL tax is set to rise by 2.9 per cent in Solihull from April if the ruling Conservative group’s budget is approved this week.

Council chiefs are recommending a budget for 2019/20 of £147million which will inject vital funding into social care, children’s services and public health.

There will be a rise of 1.9 per cent in core council tax and a further 1.0 per cent for adult social care.

Council leader Bob Sleigh said he was delighted to deliver the budget with a lower council tax rise than neighbouring authorities.

He said weekly bin collections will continue and the free green garden waste collection will also remain.

Libraries and Tudor Grange swimming pool will also receive extra funding, he says.

Coun Sleigh said: “Obviously like all public sector organisations we have less money available to us than on previous years.

“Clearly we have to meet the service requirements in the borough and also deliver good quality services at a price the council taxpayer can afford. One of our biggest demands is around adult social care and children’s services.

“And I have been able to make a proposal in the budget to invest more money in both of those services, somewhere in the region of an extra £7million.”

The budget pressures on children’s services include an increase in looked-after children, increasing requirement for home-to-school transport and demand for special educational needs and disability (SEND) services

But savings will also be made by reducing expenditure in leisure services, reviewing waste and recycling disposal options and switching to LED street lighting.

Most controversially however, is the proposal to reduce free parking in Shirley from three hours to just one amid opposition from 1,650 petitioners, high street traders and Solihull MP Julian Knight.

The measure is expected to be introduced from September.

The second hour will now cost 40p with progressive charges above that starting at £1.20.

Council chiefs hope the measure will save about £80,000 compared to the £150,000 it would have saved if 30 minute regulations were introduced.

Coun Sleigh said: “We obviously have to do what we can to support those traders. So for instance I have just received funding of about £800,00 to invest in the A34 corridor which goes through Shirley, to improve traffic flows and traffic movement and other things in the public realm.

“We took the decision to build Parkgate and I am just putting another 250 units of accommodation on the gateway site there with Solihull village so we are doing a lot to invest in Shirley.

“On highways services alone, the charges will allow us to invest in schemes such as School Streets to improve road safety around our schools.

“The Green Party are lobbying for me to increase council tax to continue free parking in Shirley, but council tax is paid by every resident in the borough whether they have a car or not. So quite frankly, I don’t think that’s fair.”

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