COUNCIL tax, parking fees and leisure charges in Southend will be frozen from April, but council rent will rise by £4.54 after the authority agreed its budget.

Southend Council agreed its £419million spending plans for the coming financial year last night.

The equivalent of 49.5 full-time posts will go, as the authority suffers a £7.6million drop in Government grants.

A total of £60million of new spending on projects is planned over the next four years, including £10million for the Airport Business Park, £2.5million to install low energy street lights and £8million to buy up and flatten empty offices in Victoria Avenue.

Council leader Nigel Holdcroft said: “By focusing provision and activity in this way our remaining resources can be directed to maintaining and improving the environment and facilities available to our residents, businesses and visitors to encourage and stimulate both financial and emotional investment and regeneration in the town and by abandoning those services which do not advance these aims or can be more effectively delivered by others.

“This is a budget which listens to our residents priorities, is based on sound Conservative value for money and common sense and leaves a town and council ready and prepared for the challenges still to come.”

For a report of the meeting see Monday’s Echo.