Residents across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole would pay the same levels of council tax from April 2021, as part of a new financial strategy being considered by BCP Council’s first ever Cabinet meeting next Wednesday (12 June).
Council Leader Cllr Vikki Slade said, “It isn’t fair that residents of Christchurch pay a significantly higher level of council tax than those with the same band of property in Poole and Bournemouth. We want a new approach that sees everyone in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole paying the same council tax levels as soon as possible. But this must be linked to everyone receiving the same standards of service too, across the board. Our strategy will aim to achieve both service and council tax equity across the whole area from April 2021.”
Cllr David Brown, Cabinet Member for Finance explained, “The BCP Shadow Authority previously chose to adopt the Government’s normal 1.99% annual council tax threshold as its assumption of the level of increase that would be allowed before a referendum was required. This meant that it would take seven years to reach an equitable council tax position, a situation which we have urgently reviewed.” Cllr Brown continued, “The Government’s basic council tax referendum threshold has been increased to 2.99% for both 2018/19 and 2019/20. Therefore, we can now achieve a much fairer position where council tax levels across the whole of the BCP Council area are the same from April 2021, based on these new assumptions. This means Poole’s council tax would increase by 2.99% in each of the next two years. In Bournemouth the council tax would increase by 2.99% in 2020/21 followed by a 0.76% increase in 2021/22. In Christchurch council tax would reduce by 4.47% in 2020/21 followed by a freeze in 2021/22.”
Cllr Vikki Slade continued, “I am also delighted that, at our very first Cabinet meeting, we will be able to get on with the process of achieving consistent services across the three towns – starting with public toilets. Residents and visitors to Poole are seriously short-changed by a lack of toilets compared to Bournemouth, Christchurch and other local towns. We have already identified two sites that we intend to reopen on Poole Quay and at Lake Pier and six other sites will undergo urgent refurbishment with a capital investment of £493,000.”
Cabinet will hear that the three preceding councils of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole all achieved balanced or better budgets for the financial year 2018/19, with the Borough of Poole needing a lower than expected contribution from capital resources, which has made this early investment possible.