Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet is planning to freeze Council Tax for the next two years. The authority receives 13 per cent of the amount residents pay. The Cabinet is proposing not to increase the district council’s element over the next two financial years. This would mean someone living in a Band D property would continue to pay £17 per month for Wyre Forest District Council services.
The Cabinet is also planning to invest £500,000 revitalising the Worcester Street area of Kidderminster town centre. This week Worcestershire County Council is expected to confirm it will also invest half a million pounds in the project at their Cabinet meeting on Thursday 4 February.
The three year budget proposed by Cabinet sees net revenue expenditure decreasing from £13m in 2016-17 to £11.5m in 2018-19. This lower level of expenditure reflects Central Government funding reductions. The revenue budget is what the Council uses for the day to day running of services such as waste and recycling collections, street cleaning, planning and building control and parks and play areas.
The Council has made savings of around £5 million since 2010 and due to the continuing challenging economic environment the Cabinet is proposing to continue with the saving programme. It is looking to save a further £100,000 in 2017-18 and £750,000 in 2018-19 as part of a balanced sustainable budget that seeks to protect key services to the public for the next three years.
The Cabinet is looking to parish and town councils and other organisations to take on responsibility for some grass root services. To enable them to do this it is proposing offering grants by creating a £50,000 Localism Fund.
Community initiatives across the district could benefit from the Cabinet’s proposals too. It plans to extend the Members’ Community Leadership Fund for 2016-17. Worthwhile initiatives, projects and activities inlcuding community groups and local charities can be assisted, with each councillor allocated £1,000 to support activities that benefit their ward.
Feedback from a public consultation has been considered in preparing the budget proposals.
Councillor Marcus Hart, Leader of the Council said:
“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation. There was strong support for virtually all of our proposals. We’ve considered the results and the budget strategy we are putting forward continues the balanced approach we have been taking to reduce costs through internal efficiency measures. It also highlights how we plan to grow income from sources other than council tax and Government grants.
2016 is an exciting year for Wyre Forest. We have the opening of the new leisure centre and the completion of the Hoobrook Link road. We’re now planning to invest more into Worcester Street area of the town centre. Our plans will help even more positive things happen in the area and we feel offers residents excellent value for money.”
Councillor Nathan Desmond, Cabinet Member for Resources said:
“The budget strategy is a tribute to the hard work of staff and councillors in reducing costs and increasing income. Initiatives like renting out office space and meeting rooms at Wyre Forest House and providing commercial services from the team at the depot are helping. The efficiency drive continues and has put us in a position to propose a Council Tax freeze for the next two years, which has been backed by the public consultation. The freeze will help all households in Wyre Forest, including those in Kidderminster who for the first time will be contributing to the new town council. ”
The budget proposals will be considered by Cabinet on Tuesday 9 February at 6pm who will make recommendations to full Council on Wednesday 24 February at 6pm when a final decision on the budget and Council Tax will be made. These meetings will be webcast and can be viewed at www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/webcast