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Ealing agrees council tax freeze for sixth year in a row
EALING last night agreed to freeze council tax for the sixth year running – keeping bills at April 2008 levels.
In addition to the freeze, councillors undertook to invest millions in services.
As part of the its investment programme, £93.5m will be spent to create 3,570 additional primary school places by April 2018.
A further £37m will be spent on special education expansion, while Ealing’s youngest residents will also benefit from £1m of funding for additional part-time nursery places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.
Parks, sports and leisure will also be given a boost with new investment in playgrounds, play equipment and the promise of a new skate park.
Further investment will be made at Ealing Central Sports Ground, Perivale Park and Gunnersbury Park, with more than £1m of additional funding being spent on the three schemes.
The much-loved ‘Bunny Park’ in Hanwell will get £100,000 to improve the animal centre’s enclosures.
Three new open spaces will be created by bringing back to life wasted or derelict sites as part of a £625,000 Places for People scheme.
The programme to renew roads and pavements will get £1.2m for the year ahead, on top of £3.5m per year of planned spending up to April 2018.
Hanwell station’s southern entrance will be reopened using a mixture of grants and council money. The scheme will include new lighting and CCTV to ensure passengers' journeys are safer as well as easier.
A sum of £17.6m will go on building 74 new homes and an upgrade of homes on council estates including South Acton, Green Man Lane, Copley Close, Dean Gardens, Havelock Estate and Rectory Park.
A scheme to bring empty homes back into use, when they might otherwise become targets for anti-social behaviour, will continue and the council is seeking compulsory purchase orders on 11 vacant homes.
Councillors approved the council tax freeze, despite funding from central government being significantly reduced.
This, plus inflation and extra demand on services, has forced the council to find £87m a year of cost reductions by April 2015.
It estimates its funding from central government will continue to reduce at a similar rate over the next few years.
Councillor Yvonne Johnson, cabinet member for finance and performance, said: “While the council’s annual income for running its services has been cut severely we have been able to take money from our capital budgets to invest in local services.
“Though we have agreed these one-off infrastructure projects now, the scale of likely reductions to funding over the next few years means the prospect of future investment is bleak.”