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Issue:- 10 March 2010

North West councils to freeze council tax

THE average North West council tax bill for 2011/12 will see virtually no change, according to the country’s most authoritative survey, released by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

The average North West Band D bill for 2011/12 will be £1,468.73, up 15 pence, from the 2010/11 figure of £1,468.58.  This freeze in council tax levels comes on the back of a Government incentive fund of £650 million to encourage councils to maintain last year’s council tax levels.  The national average Band D English council tax bill will be £1,438.87, a marginal reduction of 35 pence on last year.

Across the UK, average Government allocations to councils have fallen by 9.9% compared to last year. When considered alongside the council tax freeze, this has led to an average reduction in budgets, year to year, of 5.5%. Councils are responding with a continuing programme of economies as well as cuts in both services and jobs.

CIPFA's analysis of emerging budgets shows that a significant proportion of budget reductions are being directed towards 'back-office' activities. Two thirds of councils plan cuts of between 5% and 20% to finance, human resources and information technology departments’ budgets.  Front-line services, however, also face significant reductions. Cuts of more than 10% are reported for a range of services, including libraries, leisure and economic development.

Councils' Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) have expressed significant concerns about the high levels of risk associated with the implementation and delivery of these tough budgets.

Encouragingly, nearly 60% of CFOs report that plans for further challenging budgets in 2012/13 are fully or largely developed. Despite considerable short term dilemmas, it is clear that councils are working hard to lay plans for the medium term.

Steve Freer, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy said:- "North West councils have responded positively to Government calls to freeze council tax. The Government and councils have a shared interest in avoiding a public relations disaster of local people paying more for reduced services. Public attention is likely to continue to focus on the service and job cuts which councils determine in order to balance their budgets."

Bicycle Film Festival

THE Bicycle Film Festival comes makes its Liverpool debut 8 April to 10 April 2011, at the city’s media arts centre FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) along with other events at venues in other parts of the RopeWalks. The BFF’s immense popularity and continued growth has evolved hand-in-hand with the unprecedented boom in urban cycling internationally. From its roots in New York City, the BFF has grown into a multi-faceted, global event that travels from Milan to Tokyo, Minneapolis to Sydney. Now in its tenth year the festival is held in 30 cities worldwide. 300,000 people are expected to attend in 2011.  Film highlights for the Liverpool BFF this year include Birth of Big Air, the much anticipated documentary on legendary BMX’er Mat Hoffman, produced by Spike Jonze; and Where Are You Go, by veteran BFF filmmaker Benny Zenga, following an epic bicycle journey from Cairo to Capetown.

The Liverpool Festival will also play host to:-

► A night of Roller Racing presented by the Great Northern Rollers at The Kazimier (4-5 Wolstenholme Square Liverpool L1 4JJ)

► A special Sunday pub live viewing of the classic Paris-Roubaix race

► BMX demos and tricks demos

► Bicycle scavenger hunt

► Valet bicycle parking provided by Brompton Bicycles

Mike Stubbs, CEO/Director of FACT said:- "FACT is very excited to be hosting the newest edition of the international Bicycle Film Festival, linking Liverpool up with other BFF city hosts around the world, including Amsterdam, New York and Paris. Bicycle Film Festival will be an opportunity to draw together the broad range of cyclists in the city - from a growing community of youth cyclists, to cyclist commuters and families who ride together - and promote cycling in the Ropewalks area and beyond."

The Bicycle Film Festival is an arts and cultural event that celebrates the bicycle. The festival brings together many creative communities, including fashion, music and art, as well as various bicycling communities – road cycling, mountain biking, BMX, bike polo – over a shared passion for bike riding.  Further information and full programme listings you can go to:- and

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