Finance bosses in Dudley today announced the biggest investment in services for borough residents in a decade.
Money looks set to be pumped into leisure services, environmental work and services for the elderly and children.
Dudley Council announced its budget proposals today while the government is currently consulting on the annual settlement, but early indications suggest it will be “favourable”, leaving the council with an extra £7.5million to spend.
There are also plans for a 3.99 per cent increase in council tax to boost services further, but residents will still pay one of the lowest rates in the country. The budget proposals include investing in a new leisure centre in Dudley as well as improvements in CCTV, bin collections and highways.
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:
"We’re delighted to announce the biggest investment in services for Dudley borough residents in 10 years. With the government consulting on a settlement which looks favourable and a planned increase in council tax, the people of Dudley could see a wave of investments if all of this is approved.
"People have waited long enough for news like this, but it shows that we do listen to what local people want and act on that.”
The proposed increase in council tax will bolster the spending plan but residents will still pay significantly lower levels of council tax than other Black Country authorities. The basic rate is set to go up by 1.99 per cent with a further 2 per cent to go directly to services for older and more vulnerable people. The planned increase equates to around 80p extra a week for a Band B property in the borough.
Councillor Steve Clark, cabinet member for finance, said:
"We would never take a decision to increase council tax lightly. We have thought long and hard about this and balanced it with the need to provide services people will be proud of. The fact is that council tax rates in Dudley are some of the lowest in the country so increases are difficult to avoid. Most of the proposed increase will go to helping our older and vulnerable people, something I am sure we would all welcome.
"The key is to provide value for money for people which is why we have produced a balanced budget which invests across the board – fighting crime, helping young people and older people, the environment, health and much more.”
The proposals will be put to cabinet on October 31, before a 12 week consultation on the plans are put to the public.
A decision on council tax and all of the investments will be made in February next year.
Pictured: Councillor Steve Clark, cabinet member for finance, with Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council.