Providing the proposal is approved at Full Council next Wednesday, Elmbridge Borough Council will not be increasing its part of the Council Tax for the forthcoming year.
Given that inflation has suddenly jumped to 3.5% according to the latest figures, this freeze amounts in fact to a healthy cut in real terms. That should be welcome to many families, particularly at the lower end of the income bracket, who have been finding it hard to make ends meet lately.
What encourages me the most however is that this freeze has been achieved without any real reduction in the services provided to the general public. Efficiency savings have been made, and a number of staff posts at the Council have not been filled upon the retirement of the current post holders. That is in accordance with the views of our local council tax payers, who are rightly concerned that public bodies should make the same savings that private enterprises have to make. Elmbridge is now one of the leanest local authorities in England, and its first class staff work very hard to deliver quality services for local people.
The challenge for the new administration at Surrey CC is to emulate this success. The previous ruling group were complacent and, if the verdict of the outgoing Chief Executive is correct, barely competent. I hope the new team – which has a large number of fresh faces – can sort out the problems with which they were left.