Colchester Council has set its new budget for the year which hopes to tackle some of the most challenging times ahead.

Key points of the new budget aimed to tackle the council’s budget deficit while maintaining service include the introduction of charges for the collection of garden waste and an increase in council tax.

Faced with a significant budget deficit and an extra £10 milion of costs, the budget includes a mixture of savings, income generation and a transformation of services, aimed at helping the council balance its books.

Despite this, financial pressures remain, with the budget only being balanced for the coming year by using £1.7 million of reserve funds.

A budget gap of £193,000 is predicted for 2024/25, rising to £1.86 million by 2027/28.

After much debate, the council's new budget was voted in, with 26 in favour, 15 against and two abstaining.

The approved budget includes raising the council’s portion of the council tax bill by three per cent, or 12p per week, for a Band D property and charging 100 per cent council tax on second homes.

The levy will be in addition to those made by Essex County Council and the Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

Speaking at the meeting, several councillors shared their viewpoints as to why they were in favour or against the new budget.

Darius Laws, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “The budget will see a rise in council tax and garden waste collection charges. Because of that I was really challenged. I will be voting against it.”

Green councillor Mark Goacher said  the cuts were necessary. He said: “I’ve lived through funding cuts as a sixth form college tutor.

“Lots of things have had to be changed, as redundancies are worse. This budget is part of the same dilemma.

"For everyone who votes against the budget, I ask you, where is the alternative?”

Labour councillor Dave Harris, said: “I have no choice but to vote to support the budget. The books have to balance.”

Councillor Jeremy Hagon, for Stanway, said: “It is a ‘no’ from the residents of Stanway. This budget is a Lib Dem cash grab. I ask for my colleagues' support, don’t vote for this.”

Liberal Democrat councillor, Mark Cory, portfolio holder for resources, said: “This budget has been especially challenging, because of factors outside of our control.

“At every step we have included all councillors and all political parties in briefings and the shaping of the budget.

“We will balance the books and focus on supporting our residents accepting that there will be some reduction in certain services.”

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