No rise for East Cambs District Council’s Council Tax precept - and parking is still free in Ely

Bill Hunt

Bill Hunt - Credit: Archant

Bill Hunt, Conservative councillor for Stretham, made the pledge live on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on Thursday.

Speaking to presenter Paul Stainton Cllr Hunt said: “Well we listened to the people. We’re cutting bureaucracy and we’re retaining our free car parking. And we’re not putting council tax up this year.”

He explained the pledge only refers to the ECDC element of resident’s Council Tax bills, other authorities including Cambridgeshire County Council and the Police Authority may increase their share.

This year the government has withdrawn the incentive to freeze council tax councils can introduce increases of up to four per cent, with police and fire precepts on top bills could rise by as much as six per cent in some areas.

But Cllr Hunt assured listeners that ECDC will not be putting their precept up and said: “It’s the East Cambs element. Other people might, the county council and the fire service. But East Cambs will not. We’re confirmed. We didn’t do it last year. We think that people who go to work are paying more than enough tax already. And we’re looking at slimming down our council and having a can-do attitude, and delivering what the people want.”

Mr Hunt said the council was making ends meet through cutting bureaucracy and explained: “We’ve done away with one tier of management, and we’ve encouraged youngsters to come up, with their new enthusiasm. And we’ve changed the management structure. We’re doing our bit for East Cambs.”

And Mr Hunt added: “And we’re the only city in East Anglia without car parking charges in the centre.”

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Jason Ablewhite, leader of Hunts District Council, speaking on the same programme said his council was not only planning to freeze its share of the Council Tax for the coming year, but for the next four years.

Cllr Ablewhite said HDC would keeping Council Tax frozen without making cuts to services.

He said: “No service cuts. What we’re doing is using a collaboration view. We’re working more closely with our colleagues in South Cambs and Cambridge City.

“And of course there’s the commercialisation. We’re not selling the family silver in Huntingdonshire. We’re investing in new commercial property, where we get increased revenue streams from that. So I think we’ve got a good sustainable plan which actually gets us to the end of this parliament without the need to put up Council Tax.”

The Police Authority share will rise by one per cent, which Cllr Ablewhite, who is the Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “There are some real challenges around policing as we know it, and of course the terrorist threat is actually adding a significant amount of resource implication to the local policing, as it does across the whole of Cambridgeshire as well.

“So I don’t think we can underestimate the stuff that you don’t see that’s bubbling on under the surface that actually costs a lot of money to provide.”