£5 council tax increase approved by Nottinghamshire fire authority

A £5 council tax increase for all households has been approved by Nottinghamshire’s fire authority.
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The rise for every taxpaying household in the county will generate £1.6 million in extra funding and will take the annual fee to £89 per year for a Band D property.

Becky Smeathers, authority treasurer, said the £5 increase was “essential in order for us to balance the budget” as the decision was passed unanimously at the latest fire authority meeting.

The authority, a body of local councillors and other members which oversees the service’s finances and operational planning, had a number of options to raise extra funding in order to cover an expected deficit of £1.3m next year.

Chief Fire Officer Craig Parkin, of Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service.Chief Fire Officer Craig Parkin, of Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service.
Chief Fire Officer Craig Parkin, of Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service.

The authority voted through the £5 overall increase because it would raise an extra £833,000, compared with an alternative option of a 2.95 per cent rise.

The decision means the fire service has been able to halt plans to make cuts to front line services.

Proposals revealed last year would have seen West Bridgford Fire Station have no crew on duty at all at night, and both London Road and Stockhill stations losing one fire engine each – although 24-hour coverage has been restored at Kirkby’s Ashfield Fire Station.

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A public consultation on the cuts and the council tax increase ran from September-December 2022, with 80 per cent of respondents backing the tax rise.

It comes after the Government agreed fire authorities could increase council tax by up £5 for the next financial year.

Coun Michael Payne, authority chairman, told the meeting: “I think it would be remiss of this fire authority to have lobbied so hard and not make use of that flexibility in council tax.

“I believe people have trust in the fire service and are willing to make a smaller contribution to protect front line services.

“There’s a £1.3m deficit ahead of us next year, we are legally discharged to set a balanced budget and we will not be able to do that without making front line service cuts unless there is additional investment.”

Coun Nick Raine said: “Putting council tax up isn’t an easy thing to do. I have to represent a lot of people who just about manage and struggle with their bills as it is.”