The District Council Budget




Rochford District Council approved it’s budget for next year, and the Echo report sums things up pretty fairly:

COUNCIL taxpayers in the Rochford district face a 4.87 per cent increase next year, as the council battles to maintain spending below the Government’s capping limits.

However, the full impact will not be known until the county council, police and fire brigade figures are made official.

For local services, it is proposed council tax on an average Band D property should rise from ?179.28 to ?188.01 – an increase of ?8.73 per year, or just under 17p per week.

Council head of finance Yvonne Woodward said the real increase in funding from the Government had been 2.2 per cent, adding Rochford remained the second lowest funded council in Essex.

She said the increase in council tax was higher than desirable, but had to allow for expenditure.

Ms Woodward said the council was investing just under ?1million in the new street cleaning and waste collection contracts, which should see recycling rates rise from less than 20 per cent to around 35 per cent in the first year, and up to 50 per cent in the following years.

The concessionary bus fare scheme for over-60s was expected to cost ?840,000 next year, which was ?320,000 more than initially expected.

Council deputy leader Keith Hudson said the bus fare scheme and the need to increase recycling rates were the major reasons for the increase.

He added: “Once again, a major problem is the very poor council tax settlement which we have received from the Govern-ment.”

Lib Dem group leader Chris Black said while there were some small concerns about parts of the budget, his members accepted the proposals as a whole and felt they were the best which could be achieved.

The final figures will be confirmed at a council meeting in February.

There was an attempt this year to get a consensus on the budget. During the past few months the Lib Dem councillors have discussed the budget with the Tories and the officers at council ‘away-days’. More significantly, Chris and June Lumley were closely involved in the new contracts for recycling and grounds maintenance.

There are indeed some issues that we are unhappy with. For example, some of us are sceptical about spending ?5,000 reviewing the council newspaper “Rochford District Matters”. And we would like to allocate some funds for “Residents Parking Schemes” – but the Conservatives refuse to do that.

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  • I am happy to pay an extra 17p a week to cover the concessionary bus fare scheme for pensioners (unless all the buses go to A*da) and to cover the extension of the recycling scheme.

  • I don’t understand why we are subsidising some people to get on a bus when they could still be working & earning given that the state pension for men kicks in at 65. Therefore they are not pensioners.

    Over three quarters of a million quid is a lot of money….

  • I am sure that RDC have mandatory responsibility for quite a number of things i.e., provision for the elderly, refuse collection, street cleaning, schooling etc etc.

    I also assume that they also have some sort of forward plan to provide things that could be seen as “extras” to make life better for it’s tax payers, i.e., increased tree planting, heightened bus stands, new public toilets etc etc.

    I think it would be a good idea to ask us ( the people that pay the tax ) what they think about this “extra” spend, why not have a list of the things that the council want to spend our money on next year sent with the current years tax bill. It could be really simple – a list of items with projected cost that you put a tick against and return ( or do it on line ). The ones with the most votes get the go ahead.

    I wonder how many people would vote to spend £20,000 on teen shelters instead of, say, an improved meals on wheels service for the elderly, additional policing or a road crossing close to Sweyne Park….

  • I have crowds of youths outside my house every night – but don’t see the police.

    I have litter blown daily onto my garden – but there are no bins for people to use or street cleaners to sweep it up before it gets into my garden

    The house to the side of me has kerb side recycling – I live on a different road and have to take my recycling to a recycling centre.

    Perhaps if I saw the police on my estate,
    perhaps if I didn’t have to spend every day clearing other peoples rubbish,
    Perhaps if I had kerb side recycling like my neighbour.
    Then perhaps I could see the justification of a tax increase.

    Perhaps I should send a bill each month to RDC for clearing up rubbish, for having to police the streets (I have gone out more than once to move kids on), to dispose of our rubbish ourselves (we put out one bag a week which is only half full).

    We should only pay for the service we get!

  • RR- RDC does do some things for elderly but the County Council does most of that, they also look after schooling. RDC does indeed do refuse and street cleaning.

    I actually think quite a lot of people in Great Wakering would support the money being spent on teen shelters there – I don’t think the councillors there would be pressing for them so determinedly otherwise.

    At the moment local democracy functions by the electorate voting for a candidate to represent them in the council chamber. There’s an assumption that people spend some time before making their choice, and look carefully at the 2, 3 or 4 candidates who are standing. There’s also an assumption that once elected, the councillors stay in close contact with their areas.

    There have been various attempts before in the district at consulting the public on priorities, particularly by political parties. It works best when you give people simple choices – typically a yes/no.

    Some councils have tried the kind of general consultation you have mentioned RR, but in doing so there’s an assumption that the public will look carefully at maybe 20, 30 or 40 options before making their minds up. You would also need to make sure that the biggest town in the district (Rayleigh) didn’t win everything, and you have to work out what to do if particular groups begin campaigning, either secretly or openly, for particular options.

    The time may come when this kind of thing is workable AND fair. The area committee system is already getting people more involved.

    If we could get , say, 10,000 people to look every week at onlinefocus – or similar websites produced locally by other people – the pressure from such a mass of well-informed residents to consult more would be irresistible!

  • There is one bin immediately outside the store entrance but that is it – it would make sense (to me) to have a bin by the bus stop, a bin up near the pedestrian entrance to the Leisure Centre and a bin by the school. I guess, if and when the few shops get built at the bottom of Priory Chase, a bin or two there wouldn’t go amiss!

    I have just read this article on AOL – just hope the link will work!!

  • In local government councillors get advised things like

    “The going rate for a good xxxxxx officer is £yyyyy”

    and councillors think “We’ll have to pay that then”.

    However for Rochford in particular – I asked a question on Tuesday night about salaries – I was told that the like-for-like increase for Rochford DC was about 1% for this year. That’s after allowing for the transfer of staff to the new housing association.

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