South Northamptonshire Council budget includes 2.99% council tax rise and £1m for leisure centre

The budget was set on Wednesday evening
The budget was set on Wednesday evening

Residents in the Towcester and Brackley areas will join the rest of the west of the county in coughing up an extra 2.99 per cent in council tax this year.

South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) officially agreed its 2019/20 budget last night (Wednesday February 27).

Set alongside its 2019/20 Business Plan, SNC approved a budget of £14.6million to deliver services to the 36,000 households in the district; including waste and recycling, street cleaning, planning, housing, economic growth and leisure services.

Agreed by all 33 councillors, including the Liberal Democrat and Independent opposition councillors, it will see the average Band D property pay £191.33 to South Northamptonshire Council, which works out at just under 11p per week extra.

The bulk of council tax that is collected goes to Northamptonshire County Council, but money also goes to the Police and Crime Commissioner, the fire authority and on parish precepts.

The budget also includes an allocation of just over £1million for improvement works to Towcester Centre for Leisure.

Cabinet member for finance Councillor Peter Rawlinson said: “I think it’s a very balanced budget that allows us to keep investing in our district.

“Good management of what we have available means we are still able to approve spending on improvements to Towcester Centre for Leisure; we’ve created a fund to replace inefficient and expensive heating systems in households suffering fuel poverty, and we’re investing further in our commercial waste service which is making a good income and in turn supports other services.

“We want to maintain our services and we are investing in the future so that we can leave this council in a better shape than it was when we started.”

The budget set last night is likely to be the last ever set by South Northamptonshire. Next year it is set to be abolished along with Daventry District, Northampton Borough and the county councils to make way for a new West Northamptonshire unitary authority, where services for the whole area will be provided under one roof.

However, the new authority will face ever-shrinking government funding and the possibility of potential deficits if Northamptonshire County Council cannot balance its budget - though its leaders have said they are confident they will do so.

Asked how he thinks the new unitary will fare financially, Councillor Rawlinson said: “I would not say it will be in a strong position, but it would be in a legal position. There’s a lot of unknowns in terms of fairer funding and business rates. I’m sure everyone has been putting the worst case scenario into their medium term financial plans but hoping for the best.”