Friday, February 24, 2017
New schemes agreed as Council sets budget
West Lancashire Borough Councillors have agreed important new schemes whilst maintaining frontline services despite difficult financial challenges.
Like many councils in the country, West Lancashire Borough Council faces a challenging financial position. As a result of reductions in government grant funding and other factors we have reduced our annual budget requirement by well over 30% over the last seven years, making savings of over £5 million per year. Savings measures of just over £1m a year have already been approved for 2017/18, and it is estimated that we will then need to make additional savings of around £2m per year from 2018/19 onwards.
Next year’s budget has been set in this financial context and will maintain frontline services with targeted investment in a number of key areas. These decisions were made at the Council meeting on 22 February 2017, when members met to agree the budget for the 2017/18 financial year. In preparing this budget the Council has worked hard to maximise efficiency and income, avoid service reductions and to find funding for important projects.
The Borough Council has allocated an initial £35,000 for further works on Moor Street, Ormskirk in partnership with Lancashire County Council. This scheme will look to remove the planters, the raised platform and other street furniture between the junctions with Moorgate and Railway Road. A report will also be brought to a future Council meeting to consider further development of this area. This plan shows the Council’s ongoing commitment to implementing the Ormskirk Town Centre Strategy.
In our Council Plan we pledge to be ambitious for the local economy by retaining and growing jobs and encouraging business and wealth. The success of the Council-owned Greenwood Business Centre in creating jobs is a good example of how these aims are being achieved.
The budget provides for additional staffing resources to ensure the Council’s Economic Development Strategy can be implemented promptly and effectively. Funding has been agreed for the Council to continue its corporate membership of the Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership and to become a member of Growth Lancashire, which provides support to small and medium sized businesses.
The Council has previously allocated £25,000 to fund a variety of works to develop a masterplan for Tawd Valley Park, including funding bids to carry out improvement works over the next few years. The Council is also aiming to improve other leisure facilities through its Leisure Strategy.
Other decisions made at the meeting include:
- A plan to continue to invest money to improve online digital services to make them better for the customer and help the Council save money in the future
- Continuing to provide funding for voluntary groups when many other local authorities have reduced their support due to lack of money
- Extending the successful scheme to provide reduced cost Aqua fun sessions during the summer for a further year
- £75,000 over the next three years to invest in ongoing maintenance of the Council’s CCTV system to help keep crime low and reduce the fear of crime in West Lancashire
To help maintain frontline services at the highest possible standard the Council will introduce an annual charge of £30 to collect garden waste from later this year. Residents can choose to pay the charge if they want to continue having their garden waste collected by the Council.
Financial constraints have meant that the Council Tax has had to be increased by 2.68%, which equates to £5 on a Band D Council Tax property. This works out at just under 10 pence per week, but as the majority of West Lancashire residents live in Band A and Band B properties the rise will be less for them.
Councillor Chris Wynn, portfolio holder for Finance, said: “The government is reducing our funding and many costs are rising which has meant we have had to make some difficult decisions. However we are maintaining our frontline services that are so important to local people and protecting jobs. This has meant that we have had to increase the Council Tax level but this extra revenue is needed to maintain the services we provide.”
The Council Tax for West Lancashire Borough Council for the average Band D property in 2017/18 will be £191.76 per year or £3.69 a week.
Just under 12% of the Council Tax comes to the Borough Council. The total council tax includes charges from Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Constabulary. The Council Tax for some areas will also include a parish council precept.
The bills for ‘average’ Band D properties (excluding parish council precepts) are set out below.
2016/17 2017/18 Change
West Lancs Borough Council £186.76 £191.76 2.68%
Lancs County Council £1,174.86 £1,221.74 3.99%
Lancs Combined Fire Authority £65.50 £65.50 0.00%
Lancs Police Authority £162.22 £165.45 1.99%
Total £1,589.34 £1,644.45 3.47%