Cotswold leads the way again with 5% Council Tax reduction – “the biggest cut in the country”
Parking, garden waste and leisure charges all frozen yet again. Building control fees cut by 10%.
|Release date: 24 February 2015|
Cotswold District Council Leader Lynden Stowe has today announced that the authority will be cutting its share of local residents’ Council Tax payments by 5% for 2015/16, hard on the heels of a 3% cut in 2014/15 and a 5% reduction in 2013/14. Last year’s 3% cut was hailed as the joint biggest in the country and the previous 5% cut for 2013/14 also led the field. The latest 5% reduction for 2015/16 will ensure that CDC is in the top spot in the national Council charts, and the combined reductions of 13% over the last three years also represents the best performance over that time period. In fact, taking inflation into account, and our two-year freeze prior to these cuts, this actually amounts to a real-terms cut of about 30% over 5 years.
Speaking at the Council’s annual budget setting meeting on Tuesday 24 February he confirmed the 5% cut and made an assurance that all of the Council’s frontline services would be retained while freezing charges for car parking, leisure centre and Corinium Museum admission fees, and green waste collection charges for yet another year. Building control fees are being cut by 10%.
Commenting on this achievement, Cllr Stowe said:
“It’s remarkable that we have been able to reduce Council Tax for three years in a row. Most of the savings we have achieved stem from the joint working we have undertaken with other Councils. We have developed a very close relationship with West Oxfordshire District Council over the last few years and now share around 80 posts, ranging from senior management to officer level. We have also established strong ties with Cheltenham and Forest of Dean Councils, sharing resources to carry out back-office jobs such as finance, HR and procurement (another 80 posts shared between all partners). The future looks bright as we embark on more work with these partners through the emerging 2020 Vision programme – looking ahead, this will enable us to pursue more work sharing and cost-cutting initiatives without compromising the independence or local decision-making of the participants and should save us all a total of over £50 million over ten years. Setting up the environmental services company Ubico Ltd with Cheltenham Borough Council has also been a positive experience. The company already expects to save £5 million in costs during its first five years of operations, and is currently preparing to add more Councils to its list of clients.
“Freezing costs for services produces real dividends – more people are coming through the doors of CDC-owned leisure centres, and the take-up of the weekly green waste kerbside collection service continues to rise year on year. We have even reduced the cost of some parking charges and our car parks are well used as a result.This has all been achieved despite a 60% plus reduction in core government grants to the Council over the last five years.
“Our Council Tax rate is one of our key indicators when we assess our overall efficiency. We have already assessed that we are one of the best performing local authorities in the country and this 5% cut should help us keep that position.
“I have always maintained that it is not our job to take more money than we need to deliver our services to residents, and I am very pleased that we have been able to leave as much as possible in the taxpayer’s pocket. In fact, the real-terms reduction of 30% over five years means that some £4.8m has remained in the local economy to stimulate prosperity. Residents across the Cotswolds can be assured that we are obtaining the best value for money possible, thanks to our cost saving measures. Our next big step – increased partnership working with Cheltenham, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire Councils – will enable us to work even more efficiently, and we will continue to look for further savings.”
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