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New plan to cut rubbish sent to landfill

North Somerset hopes to cut rubbish sent to landfill Credit: ITV News West Country

North Somerset Councillors will be asked to vote on a plan to reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill in the district.

The next full council meeting on 18th February will consider a plan to send an extra 10,000 tonnes of rubbish to a mechanical biological plant at Avonmouth which it is claimed will save North Somerset about £400,000 over the next six years.

Currently 18,000 tonnes are sent to the Avonmouth facility.

North Somerset currently recycles 59% of its rubbish, making it one of the best performing councils in the country.

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North Somerset council tax to rise by 1.5%

Council tax in North Somerset will rise by 1.5% in the year ahead.

The decision was made at last night's [Tuesday] full council meeting. The rise equates to a 33p a week rise for an average Band D property, with an annual bill of £1,164.88 - a rise of £16.95.

Challenging finances are not new to us. We are a low-funded and low-spending authority and have successfully dealt with previous budget reductions.

However, we have never faced such challenging times as now, and they will be with us for years. The scale of change will be significant and the council will look, feel and operate very differently in the future. Despite this, our vision and ambitions remain the same

– Council Leader, Councillor Nigel Ashton

Councillor Ashton added that government grant funding had been reduced by 6.3% for 2013/14 but that the council is still waiting for confirmation of the final settlement. He added that it is because of unfair funding that the decision to raise council tax has had to be taken.

We have considered the proposals put forward in the alternative budgets by opposition groups, each of which suggested a 2% tax rise, and we have also examined the freeze grant the government is offering. However the numbers just don't add up, which is why, with some regret we are making this increase.

– Council Leader, Councillor Nigel Ashton

Full details of the council tax amounts by council tax band and parish can be found here.

North Somerset Council faced with £39m funding gap

North Somerset Council could be facing an additional £39m funding gap over the next five years, due to extra government cutbacks in public expenditure.

The news comes after the council has already taken steps to close an identified £47.3m gap between 2011 and 2015. This new announcement takes the total savings required to £86.3m by 2018.

Initial analysis carried out by the council suggests that if current projections are confirmed, by 2018, the council could have only half the funding it had in 2010/11 to fund services for local people.

The extra funding pressures follow a series of government announcements signalling that national austerity measures are likely to continue for a further three years at least.

Councillor Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council said the extra £39m presented a serious challenge:

"Officers and councillors have worked extremely hard over the last two years to streamline services and introduce more efficient ways of working in order to make savings. This has been a huge undertaking and many difficult decisions have had to be made.

This additional £39m in savings will test us even further but we have given ourselves time to plan ahead so the right decisions can be made.

However, there is no doubt these additional enforced savings will have a serious effect on local services."

The council has so far identified some savings in the run up to 2015 by re-designing services and not closing them, including transferring the running of the Playhouse Theatre and Winter Gardens in Weston to a private sector company and introducing self-service facilities into libraries.

The council is now starting work on a new round of financial planning which will detail the budget proposals that need to be considered for the next five years. This will be considered by the council's executive on October 23.