COUNCIL chiefs are set to invest millions of pounds next year but council tax bills could rise to help pay for the projects.
The Conservative administration at the Guildhall has released details of Worcester City Council’s budget for 2016/17, with investment of £11million and a freeze on car parking charges. But, to balance the books, council tax bills could go up by nearly two per cent.
Major investment is going into the building of a new eight-lane swimming pool in Perdiswell, £250,000 for new toilet facilities at Gheluvelt Park and a further £500,000 to enhance Worcester’s riverside and city centre.
City council leader Coun Simon Geraghty told the Observer the budget was about improving Worcester, rather than making any further cuts to the council’s finances.
“We think this is a budget that is very prudent and sets up the council in a stable financial position and it allows us to continue to invest,” Coun Geraghty said.
“This budget isn’t about cuts, it’s about investment and it’s about making sure that we can improve Worcester for the people who live here and the visitors that come here.
“We can invest £11million in improving the city and some really key facilities and improvements and we can freeze car parking charges.
“This is a record investment that the council is making, we’re looking at just under £20million over the five-year programme, and with £11million in 2016/17.”
The final proposals will be put before the council in February.
Coun Geraghty said the authority was also working with the county council to resurface a number of important streets in the city that ‘had not been improved for a while’.
“This is part of an ongoing programme of raising the quality of the city centre, making sure it’s more attractive, making sure the retail economy can be sustained into the future so it’s an attractive place for people to come and shop and spend time.”
The city council’s Labour leader, Coun Adrian Gregson, said it was a bit early to comment fully on the proposals because they were yet to be finalised.
“There are open-ended questions that we need answers to,” he added.
“There is a shortfall that has been identified and hasn’t been filled. I think it’s further evidence of their financial incompetence.”