Less authority cash as home revamps fall

LOCAL authorities across Suffolk have been out of pocket because fewer homeowners are forking out on improvement works in the current economic climate.

LOCAL authorities across Suffolk have been out of pocket because fewer homeowners are forking out on improvement works in the current economic climate.

Councils usually rake in hundreds of thousands of pounds each year on the back of fees charged to the public for submitting planning applications.

But last year their earnings plunged as the public became increasingly concerned over the financial outlook. As a result, councils are looking to cut costs where possible.

Suffolk Coastal District Council expects to be �100,000 down on planning fees and development control fees this year and Babergh District Council expects to be �50,000 down on planning fees.

Last year, St Edmundsbury Borough Council was �70,000 down on planning fees and Ipswich Borough Council's revenue dropped from �715,000 in 2007/2008 to �610,000, though it claimed to be on budget this year.

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council ruled out the possibility of either redeployment or redundancies.

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He said: “We've escaped a lot of the effects of the down turn and there remains an interest in planning in Ipswich.”

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Coastal District Council said: “Our original estimate for planning fee income was �803,000 for 2008/2009 and our (probable) actual figure is �746,000 - probable as the final actuals have not yet been completely nailed down.

“I'm not sure how this compares with other councils but we are aware that we got as close as we did largely because of an unexpectedly high fee for a single application.”