Cotswold District Council Budget Proposals for 2010/11

Cotswold District Council – Key Budget Proposals for 2010/11.

Capital Expenditure:
We’re investing a further £100,000 in our Community Projects Fund. This money will be used to provide grants for building and capital works at community and village halls, and to enhance play facilities at recreation parks for young people. Over the years many of our towns and villages have benefited from these grants. Maximum grant will be £10,000 and up to 35% of the project cost.

It’s also important that we make residents, organisations, communities and businesses in the Cotswolds aware of the full range of grants available to them and, so shortly, we will be launching our online “Cotswolds Grants” service. http://www.cotswold.gov.uk/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=10863

We’re allocating, from our capital reserves, up to £500,000 towards flood resilience works in the district. Since the 2007 floods we’ve been working hard with drainage experts and engineers looking to see if we can build up our flood defences in those communities worst hit. This money will help to part-fund some of the more affordable projects in partnership with other bodies (eg Defra, Environment Agency, Gloucestershire County Council and Town & Parish Councils).

We’re also maintaining our capital expenditure of £500,000 per year to help disabled people stay in their own homes. In particular, this helps other public agencies like the county council and PCT keep their costs down.

Revenue Expenditure:
Many of our income streams are under pressure during the recession.  In particular investment income, planning & building control fees and land charges search fees. We know it’s a very similar situation for many of our residents and that’s why we are proposing to keep our council tax increase down to 2.5% next year – lower than the previously approved rise of 3.5%.

We are planning efficiencies of nearly £1 million pounds in the way we run the council. We are streamlining our management structure and plan to share more posts with West Oxfordshire District Council, whilst at the same time protecting our frontline services. 
We also know that regardless of which party forms a new government next year there will be substantial cuts in funding for local government. We are building into our figures a cut of 10% in real terms. That’s in addition to the recent government cuts (LABGI grant) of over £500,000 a year.

Waste Collection & Recycling:
In December we’ll be discussing plans to introduce kerbside collections of plastic bottles. We’ve spent the last few months looking at the recycling vehicle fleet with waste experts and our contractors, SITA. We’ve now designed special vehicles to deal more efficiently with the waste collections from Cotswold residents – many of whom live in sparsely populated rural villages and hamlets. We’re hoping these new vehicles will also be able to collect plastic waste at the same time and provide a much more economic solution than we’ve been presented with before.

We’re currently recycling between 60 and 70% of all household waste and we would like to thank all of you for your help in achieving those figures. We recognize that this is a costly exercise but we believe it is worthwhile. Ultimately by recycling more it helps to keep your county council tax bill down, keeps rubbish out of landfill and gets raw materials back in to the manufacturing chain.

Travel Tokens:
Due to an anticipated cut of £80,000 from central government we’ve had to take a tough decision on Travel Tokens. All over 60’s will still be able to apply for a bus pass. However, from 1st April, 2010, only those people who qualify on grounds of disability will be eligible for travel tokens. 

Car Parking & Leisure Charges:

We’ve previously learned our lessons and believe that its better for all concerned if we put charges up by a small amount each year rather than avoiding the issue and having to play “catch-up” later with very big increases. 

Planning Application Fees:
These are set by central government. However, many of you have told us in the past that you think it’s unfair that the general council taxpayer subsidizes the “pre-application” advice given to developers. We now charge for this advice on “major” applications and will be bringing in other charges soon which we expect to produce additional income of £25,000 pa.

Local Development Framework (LDF):
The LDF will replace the current Local Plan. This is a very important framework because it’s the policy against which all planning applications will be determined within the Cotswolds for the next decade. You have often told us about your planning concerns and we need to make sure we have a “LDF” that is as robust as possible. That’s why we’re allocating a further £54,000 a year towards the work we need to do to make it a “watertight” policy. It’s one of the very few areas where we expect to spend more money this year than last year, but we think it’s a “must do” to ensure that our unique Cotswold heritage is protected for future generations. 

Utility Bills:
We’re hoping these will be £60,000 a year less than previously predicted. This saving is partly paying our suppliers lower prices and, partly, because we’re using less energy as a result of our previous investments in energy efficiency measures. 

Business Rates:
Many Cotswold businesses have been re-rated. We’re aware of some rateable values that have been hiked up enormously. We need to be very clear and confirm that CDC has no say and plays no part whatsoever in setting rateable values – they are all set by the Inland Revenue. CDC merely has a legal obligation to collect whatever sums are calculated and to hand over the monies collected to central government. 

Please do feedback your comments to me  post to: Lynden Stowe, Cotswold District Council, Trinity Road, Cirencester GL7 1PX

Meetings with Town and Parish Councils
We arranged meetings between the District Council and Parish and Town Councils on 2nd and 9th November at Cirencester and Moreton in Marsh and we were pleased by how many people came along to talk to us at these events. A total of 29 Towns and Parishes were represented and we would like to thank everyone who attended for their contribution.

A wide variety of views was put forward on a range of issues and these are currently being reviewed.
One matter that we can respond to immediately is the comment many people made that feedback is needed when views given on planning applications do not appear to be taken on board by the District Council when applications are determined. We have considered this and we will ensure that feedback will be given where the Council’s decision is different from the views made by the Town or Parish Council, after that decision has been made.

We are currently considering the other issues discussed and intend to feedback to Towns and Parishes soon with our thoughts on how the Council can respond to some of the matters raised.

Dual-User Cotswold Leisure Centres

We have recently invested and upgraded facilities in the gyms at our dual user sports centres in Bourton, Chipping Campden, Fairford & Tetbury. These investments have been made in line with a “business case” expectation that more income will be generated by greater use of the facilities.

Cotswold Leisure Fairford
A £225,000 investment, the majority of which has been spent on extending the previously very small gym into a much larger gym three times the size of the original. The new extended gym will be fitted out with twenty four pieces of the latest state of the art equipment. The new gym will be able to cater for up to 30 people at any one time, the old gym only being able to accommodate 6 as a maximum. The new facilities will open fully on Friday 11th December 2009.

Cotswold Leisure Bourton-on-the-Water:
£80,000 was spent on refurbishing Cotswold Leisure Bourton-on-the-Water back in July. The majority of the money was spent on purchasing approximately 30 pieces of gym equipment. Gym memberships have already risen.

Cotswold Leisure Chipping Campden & Cotswold Leisure Tetbury:
£20,000 was spent on make-overs at Campden and Tetbury. Both gyms were also decorated and new carpets fitted.

The Recession

We may be able to help those who need help. For further information please see: http://www.cotswold.gov.uk/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=9854

And finally….
Christmas waste & recycling collection dates & details were published in the recent issue of Cotswold News. They can also be found at: http://www.cotswold.gov.uk/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=2033