A three per cent council tax rise, paying for parking in key locations, such as Nodehill in Newport and Union Street in Ryde, and even shorter tip opening hours are among the bitter pills Islanders may have to swallow if the IW Council’s budget is approved.
Parking charges across the Island are also set to rise, as are Wightcare social care charges, home-to-school transport costs and crematorium and cemetery charges as the council looks to save £5.5 million in 2019/20.
“Tough choices will have to be made”
It said “tough choices will have to be made” as the plans were unveiled five months before they are due to come into force.
Parking across the Island will also become more expensive, as on-street charging is brought in for Crocker Street and Nodehill in Newport, in Ryde and on all Island esplanades.
The council will also introduce £1 evening fees in all on-street areas from 6pm to 8am.
Hutchinson: “Trying to introduce an element of fairness”
Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Resources, Cllr Stuart Hutchinson, said:
“In some towns on-street parking is free and in others it’s paid for. We are trying to introduce an element of fairness.
“The other thing introducing charges will bring is increased turnover in those areas where we levy a charge. So in those areas where people are parking for free all day, they will only park for a short period of time because they will have to pay for it.”
Brodie: “Trying to tax the leisure economy”
Cllr Geoff Brodie, member for Newport East, said:
“We talk about regenerating our towns such as Newport, and trying to encourage more people into the town. Yet they want to start charging people for parking overnight, or coming in for dinner in the evening.
“They are trying to tax the leisure economy.
“Mrs May says austerity is over, but I would like to see the proof of that.”
Jones-Evans: “Not sure they’ve done their figures correctly”
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, Newport Central, said:
“I am not sure, with regards to Crocker Street, they have done their figures correctly. That area is largely residential so people will be able to buy a resident’s permit.
“Should people just visiting in the day be the only ones to pay?”
Shorter opening hours at the tip
Lynnbottom Tip will also be closing for an hour earlier each day — the council has said this will have minimal impact as there is low footfall at this time.
Savings have been identified from all services, with 95 per cent coming through efficiencies — which the council has said will have ‘little or no impact’ — and five per cent in cuts.
Another rise in council tax
Council tax will also rise by another 2.99 per cent, although deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, Stuart Hutchinson, said it would not rule out an additional rise if the government allowed it.
This year, three per cent of the council tax rise was allocated for adult social care.
Rise in care costs
Next year, a three per cent increase in Wightcare costs and a review of all care packages could save the council over £1 million.
Stewart: Inappropriate to use reserves [£11.2m] on services
Council reserves now stand at £11.2 million, approximately three per cent of the overall budget. The Local Government Authority recommends councils have a minimum of £5 million in reserves.
Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, said it would be inappropriate for them to be used on services needed year after year.
Cllr Hutchinson said:
“We are not planning to build up our reserves this year, because we think the budget will come in exactly on target.”
Increasing number of affordable houses
Surplus capital would be used for additional projects by the council, including increasing the number of affordable houses.
“We can either use that money, or take out a loan which we will have to pay back.”
Plans will go before the council on Thursday, recommending the set up of a local housing company to deliver affordable housing for Island residents.
Savings on PFI
A review of the Highways PFI will deliver £1 million in savings, with efficiencies in operation and maintenance.
Cllr Stewart said by releasing the budget ahead of schedule, he hoped to work with opposition councillors.
Other savings identified include:
- Ending the contract for protective equipment and providing it ‘in house’ for the fire and rescue service (£80,000 in savings)
- Increasing the Shanklin lift charges from £1.50 return to £2 (£10,000)
- Leasing units at the BAE site (£33,000 income).
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This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed
Image: © Simon Haytack