Council tax has officially been frozen across the district for this year after much debate whether to set an increase of 1.5 per cent.

No changes as announced at the full council meeting on Tuesday, February 25, means that Epping Forest has the lowest tax Band D in Essex.

Around 12,884 council tax band D homeowners will continue to pay £152.46 compared to the proposed £154.75 which is still below the county’s average of £156.

While Essex County Council raises its rates most years and parish councils regularly up their precepts, Epping has only bumped up the rate once since 2010.

The recommendation to increase the Epping Forest District Council precept for council tax was discussed at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, February 6.

Leader of the council Chris Whitbread, said: “We have gone through an awful lot of changes this year. as mentioned at the last meeting.

“I want to make sure that we have the best budget that we could for the residents of our district.

He continued: “When we originally looked at this year’s budget we contemplated at looking at increasing to 1.5 per cent.

“But taking into account of underspends and such over the past year we are now able to freeze council tax for another year.”

“We are very well served by a good team of officers in all departments, we have gone through a huge transformation in the past two to three years and its still ongoing.

“With so much change going on, it was felt that those staff at direct level and below would benefit from a one off 1.5 per cent bonus. I hope that members can support that.”

Changes proposed to the 2020/21 budget included an additional £50,000 towards the 87 bus route, £50,000 to the local highways panel and £200,000 for other sustainable travel routes.

Councillor Chris Pond congratulated Councillor Whitbread on the council tax, saying: “The amount that each of our residents pays out is crucial importance to them.

“I do applaud the administrations aim to keep the council tax rates low.”

Councillor’s Holly Whitbread, Aniket Patel, Jon Whitehouse, also voiced their delight and support in the unaltered council tax for the past decade.