Council Tax freeze of a further two years in Islington among new budget proposals

Cllr Catherine West

Cllr Catherine West - Credit: Archant

Council Tax will be frozen for another two years and millions of pounds will be ploughed into CCTV under new budget proposals agreed this week.

Islington’s Labour leaders have decided not to raise council tax before April 2015, saying they do not want to increase the burden on residents in such tough times.

In a budget that sees a further £13million slashed as a result of government cuts, following huge reductions in the previous two years, the council is also finding £2million for improvements to its ageing CCTV network.

Cameras will be upgraded and different systems will be hooked into one 24-hour crime-fighting hub for the first time, as first reported by the Gazette in January last year.

The budget proposals for the financial year from 2013 to 2014 were agreed by the executive on Monday and will go before the full council on February 28.

Cllr Richard Greening, executive member for finance, said: “We continue to face the biggest cut to local government funding that has ever taken place, which makes it increasingly difficult to achieve our objective of closing the outcomes gap between Islington’s least and most wealthy.

“But we are determined to help those who most need our support.”

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Cllr Catherine West, leader of Islington Council, said: “Residents tell us that they want Islington to be a safer place and that’s one of our biggest priorities.

“We want better CCTV to help with crime detection, and camera technology has improved a lot since most of ours were originally installed.”

The council will be rewarded with an estimated £1.3million over the next two financial years by the government for keeping a lid on Council Tax.

Other measures include setting aside £300,000 to fund grants of £300 to help keep teenagers in education and training past the age of 16.

Bosses have also pledged £600,000 for town centre improvements in Finsbury Park and £500,000 to improve Archway Park.

The council insists 99 per cent of the £13million reduction has been found by improving efficiency and agreeing better contracts.

Cllr John Gilbert, of the opposition Lib Dem group, said: “They spend a lot of time whinging about government cuts, but when you look at the detail, they say they can make most of the savings through efficiencies. You begin to wonder what all the fuss is about.”

The council has been asked to make savings worth £121million in total during the four years between 2011 and 2015, while previous budgets have seen front line services such as libraries, older people’s day centres and accessible bus services face significant cuts.