Council increase for St Helens residents

Council leader Barrie Grunewald
Council leader Barrie Grunewald
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Councillors unanimously agreed to raise council tax by 1.99 per cent at a Town Hall meeting last week.

Council leader Barrie Grunewald described the rise as “the right balance to strike” in the face of further grant cuts from central Government.

Had a tax rise of two per cent or more been proposed, it would have forced a referendum.

Also, by not proposing a council tax freeze, councillors forfeited the right to a government grant of around £650,000.

Coun Grunewald said: “Local government faces exceptionally difficult times and some council services have been stretched to breaking point. This government knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.”

The 2014-15 budget, which included further support for the council’s apprenticeship and graduate scheme, was supported by councillors from across the political divide.

As part of the budget, £6m was set aside for the proposed development of Parkside, which council leader Barrie Grunewald claimed could create lots of jobs.

This move was gently queried by Lib Dem councillors Steph Topping and Neil Taylor, however, who questioned whether the long-running Parkside saga would ever reach a positive conclusion.

A further £1m was allocated to helping first-time buyers take their first steps onto the property ladder and another £1m to help boost retail in the town centre.