Car parking charges across the Braintree district have been frozen for another year.

Braintree Council has announced prices will not rise as it starts its budget setting process for 2019/20.

This is despite a reduction in government funding from £4.58million to nothing by 2020.

Since 2010 the council has found £8.6million through savings, but says it recognised traditional cuts in efficiency savings, service reviews and staffing restructures would not meet the challenges of having to become financially independent by 2019/20.

Instead, the council made a series of planned investments to give a return for supporting frontline services.

Leader Graham Butland said: “Freezing the costs of car parking in our towns is good for businesses and for shoppers.

“Many councils across the country have had no option but to increase these charges.

“There has never been a time where there has been more pressure on local government finances, but we are an ambitious and responsible council taking on the challenge and finding new ways of working for the benefit of local residents and businesses while maintaining our key services and providing our taxpayers with value for money.”

Rental income from the council’s commercial, industrial and investment properties means nearly £3 million is returned to the council to use on services residents depend on.

Among the council’s property investments are business units at Braintree Enterprise Centre, industrial premises across Braintree and Witham, offices at Century Drive in Braintree and Mayland House in Witham and health facilities in Braintree and Silver End.

The council’s financial approach has also seen it rent out sections of its headquarters at Causeway House to private companies and it invest in solar panels to reduce energy costs.

As well as losing Central Government funding, the council has also been affected by increasing costs, increased demand, new responsibilities as well as inflation.

Its planning service has had to respond to an increase in planning applications and appeals and its housing service has new additional responsibilities under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee at Braintree Council will examine and consider budget proposals on November 21.

There will also be a meeting of the Cabinet on November 26 and Full Council on December 10.

The final budget and council tax proposals will be presented to Full Council in February 2019.