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Frank Smith
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Council announces budget consultation response

17 January 2014
 
Herefordshire Council’s cabinet has announced its response to the recent public budget consultation.
 
The consultation ran from 24 October 2013 and received over 700 responses from members of the public, official representatives and local organisations across the county.
 
The consultation has produced a number of proposals and areas for further consideration, which have informed the development of budget proposals for 2014/15 and the proposed medium term financial strategy, which will be considered by full council on 7 February.
 
* We will not be holding a council tax referendum on a 5 per cent rise, in view of the consultation responses.  We will only raise council tax by 1.9 per cent.
 
* We will proceed with the changes to our council tax reduction scheme, which will see working age claimants paying more of their bill themselves.
 
* We still need to reduce the cost of our library service from April 2015 and will work towards improved self service, online services, volunteer and user group support and possibly local financial assistance.
 
* Last year we appointed Balfour Beatty Living Places as our highways and related services provider with a commitment to improving these services.  We have also included an additional £20million capital investment in to our budget to improve the county’s roads over the next two years, reducing the need for future reactive maintenance.
 
* We will do everything we can to protect vital ‘market day’ bus services in rural areas.
 
We recognise that there is a need for additional housing and this has been incorporated into our budget to enable us to deliver a significant number of affordable units.
 
* We will continue to deliver targeted, evidence based preventative strategies which support the county’s most vulnerable residents, whilst ensuring efficient use of taxpayers’ money.
 
* We will continue to invest in public health initiatives which will be an important factor in protecting and improving children’s health.
 
* We will continue to investigate ways to reduce our internal operating costs across the council.  We have already significantly reduced our costs with over 300 redundancies in the last two years, capping redundancy payments and asking all staff to take two days of unpaid leave at Christmas, which has saved £225,000.
 
Councillor Tony Johnson, leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “It is well known that we are facing significant reductions in our government funding and yet it is imperative that we still deliver our priorities of keeping children and young people safe and giving them the best start in life, enabling residents to live safe, healthy and independent lives and investing in projects to improve roads, create jobs and build more homes.
 
“The recent budget consultation provided a number of detailed suggestions for ways in which we can deliver services differently and more cost effectively and we will be considering these over the coming months.
 
“In order to meet our priorities, we need to continue encouraging individuals, communities and organisations to do more for themselves and their local areas, reducing the costs and level of services provided and ensuring that the services we do provide are well delivered and cost effective.â€
 
For further information, please read a copy of the delivering our priorities with much less money report.

 

"We will not be holding a council tax referendum on a 5 per cent rise, in view of the consultation responses.  We will only raise council tax by 1.9 per cent".
 
Yes, the maximum amount they are allowed to. They are not doing the ratepayers any favours. If the cap was 3.5% the council would have increased it to that level.
 
Also note that the funding has been approved by Worcestershire County Council for the incinerator which Herefordshire is in partnership. 
 

Worcestershire County Council has approved £125m of funding for a waste incinerator plant in Hartlebury.

 
Plans for the facility were passed in December by the authority and Herefordshire Council, who are jointly funding the project.
 
The incinerator will be managed by Mercia Waste Management and will supply energy to 20,000 homes per year.
 
Herefordshire Council, which is likely to pay an extra £40m towards the plant, will discuss the plans on 7 February.
 
The site will be called EnviRecover and would create 30 permanent jobs and around 200 jobs during the construction process, Mercia Waste Management has said.
 
The local authorities will take it on once the firm's contract expires in 2023.
 
A council report has said the site would be in use "until about 2042", by which time both councils would have spent £1.6bn on the plant.
 
That figure would top £2bn if "nothing was done", a council spokesman said.
 
A spokesman for Worcestershire residents Against Incineration and Landfill (WAIL) said their concerns "had been ignored" when the plans were passed last month.

 

Yes these councils tell us to save money so that they can take it off us at a later date. How many of those 20,000 homes will be heated in Herefordshire?
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Hmmmm, "investing in projects to improve roads, create jobs and build more homes". Improve roads is good, they can barely get much worse and no mention of build new (link road), so also good. Create jobs - yeah we've heard that before, who hasn't got 'over a 1000 OLM jobs' still ringing in their ears. Build more homes? Councils don't build homes, haven't done since Thatchers reign. "We have also included an additional £20million capital investment in to our budget to improve the county’s roads over the next two years, reducing the need for future reactive maintenance." Joke - this is Balfour Beatty varying the terms of the agreement just 3 months into the contract and guess who gets screwed - yep, not BB.

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