Blaenau Gwent to get 4.6% council tax hike and will see grave charges rise

Blaenau Gwent to get 4.6% council tax hike

Blaenau Gwent to get 4.6% council tax hike

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BLAENAU Gwent Council today approved a 4.6 per cent council tax increase, the largest in Gwent, along with contentious proposed cuts to services including raising the price of cemetery graves.

The council formally approved its revenue budget for 2014/15 at a special meeting of the full council where it needed to find £10 million worth of savings to balance its books as part of a £20 million saving over the next three years.

Among the most controversial of the savings proposals which were approved are increasing cemetery charges.

The price for a new grave is currently £839 and the proposed new charge was £1,800, while it was suggested re-opening a grave went from £442 to £950.

However, deputy leader of the council Steve Thomas suggested amending the sum to £1,200 for a new grave and re-opening a grave to be charged at £730, which was approved by the majority of the council.

The meeting also set the level of Council Tax for 2014/15 and members approved a 4.6 per cent increase. This is the largest council tax hike in Gwent - Caerphilly approved a 3.9 per cent increase, Monmouthshire and Torfaen both went with a 3.95 per cent rise and Newport has set its council tax at 4.5 per cent for 2014/15.

The meeting was told that the council has forecast a balanced budget for the current financial year and there is a small overall underspend – meaning it would not need to draw on any money from reserves.

Leader of the Council Hedley McCarthy said that very tough decisions had to be made as the council had received its worst ever funding settlement from Welsh Government.

He said: “We find ourselves in the council’s most challenging financial position to date. We have been forced to make some very unpopular and unwelcome decisions about services and also raise Council Tax. However, these are important decisions that we have had to make to ensure the financial future of this council.”

Eight independent councillors voted against the budget proposals, including Cllr Kevin Brown who spoke out against the cemeteries price hike, saying the increase would affect hard-working people in the borough who were on low wages.

Leader of the minority group Cllr John Hopkins and Cllr Nigel Daniels both argued against the cuts, including Cllr Hopkins’ suggested amendment that the price for a new grave be increase by 25 per cent rather than 36 per cent, which was put to a vote and defeated.

Cllr Daniels said: “Setting the council tax at 4.6 per cent while decimating services and increasing charges and dismissing staff like the home care workers is going to have a significant effect on our constituents.”

Other revenue savings approved for 2014/15 include stopping the stray animal impounding service at a saving of £49,125, although it will continue to remove them from the highway, charging for replacement bins, saving £10,000, ending the annual environment awards, at a saving of £10,000, and no longer running council-funded weed spraying in the borough – at a cost of £20,000.

Comments (6)

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5:53pm Fri 7 Mar 14

Abertillery29 says...

Nothing from the Council regarding councillors pension payments, allowances to Senior officers of the Council, expenses etc.. I suppose those matters will be sneaked out at a later date, perhaps after local elections. I believe but please correct me if I am wrong that Blaenau Gwent has one of the highest Council taxes in the UK.
Nothing from the Council regarding councillors pension payments, allowances to Senior officers of the Council, expenses etc.. I suppose those matters will be sneaked out at a later date, perhaps after local elections. I believe but please correct me if I am wrong that Blaenau Gwent has one of the highest Council taxes in the UK. Abertillery29
  • Score: 11

6:11pm Fri 7 Mar 14

kez1968 says...

it's about time this council had a vote of no confidence from the electorate of blaenau Gwent, they are by far the most corrupt inept wasters put on this earth.
it's about time this council had a vote of no confidence from the electorate of blaenau Gwent, they are by far the most corrupt inept wasters put on this earth. kez1968
  • Score: 20

7:26pm Fri 7 Mar 14

blackandamber says...

Just keep on voting for who your father voted for and we all know who that is don't we.
Just keep on voting for who your father voted for and we all know who that is don't we. blackandamber
  • Score: 1

7:33am Sat 8 Mar 14

Fairy Nuff says...

Have they announced who's drawn the short straw to merge with Blaenau Gwent ?
Have they announced who's drawn the short straw to merge with Blaenau Gwent ? Fairy Nuff
  • Score: 3

11:12am Sat 8 Mar 14

skrewdriver18 says...

cemetery staff face job cuts but they make up jobs for office staff and give them big pay rises no money mind you and still employ temp staff and 42 councilors well done blaenau bent
cemetery staff face job cuts but they make up jobs for office staff and give them big pay rises no money mind you and still employ temp staff and 42 councilors well done blaenau bent skrewdriver18
  • Score: 6

11:21am Sat 8 Mar 14

skrewdriver18 says...

cemetery staff face losing their jobs then they go & make jobs up for office staff & give them big pay rises & the workers suffer they still employ temp staff & the 42 councilors bleed us dry
cemetery staff face losing their jobs then they go & make jobs up for office staff & give them big pay rises & the workers suffer they still employ temp staff & the 42 councilors bleed us dry skrewdriver18
  • Score: 0

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