Response of Adrian Waite of AWICS
The Executive of Eden District Council is proposing a Budget for 2018/19 that they say prioritises growing the economy, delivering more housing and creating more accessible online services for residents. The main items outlined in their budget proposals are:
- Embedding in the annual budget the Eden Community Fund grant scheme of £110,000 a year for all the parishes and local communities to apply for grants to support local projects and events;
- Devolution of local services to Town and Parish Councils will continue to secure these valued services for the future, with funding support from Eden District Council to assist this happening until 2022;
- New renewable heating project spend of £150,000 to support renewable and local energy solutions;
- New digital programme to provide more efficient and cost-effective services to residents 24/7 online. The promotion of broadband access will continue;
- Investment in planning enforcement so that we have systems in place to secure full compliance with the planning policies and, through that, generating increased investment in development in appropriate places;
- Continue to support and improve alongside Town and Parish Councils footway lighting throughout the District by continued investment in this service;
- The commitment to provide loans to a Registered Social Landlord through the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund of £1m will be realised by 31 March 2018.
In the Council’s press release, the Leader of the Council is quoted as saying that:
“This is a budget proposal for jobs, for housing and for growth, to improve the quality of life for residents and businesses.”
Adrian Waite of AWICS has submitted a response to the budget consultation in his capacity as a resident of Eden and Managing Director of 'AWICS' that is based in Eden.
In this he concludes that the Council has not taken every opportunity that it could have done to pursue its stated objectives; that the Council is being insufficiently ambitious in this budget and that there appears to be scope to improve financial management. He suggests that the Council consider:
- A more significant capital programme to address especially the economic development and housing objectives that it has identified, funded through surplus reserves, prudential borrowing and more effective asset management; and perhaps delivered through ‘Heart of Cumbria’.
- Providing greater clarity and transparency about the objectives and activities of ‘Heart of Cumbria’.
- Improvements to the project management of the capital programme.
- Approving revenue budgets that do not contain ‘budget slack’, that aim to reduce reserves to an appropriate level and that focus resources on direct services.
- Increasing Council Tax by 3% in 2018/19.
Note: 'Heart of Cumbria' is an arms' length company that is wholly owned by the Council.
The consultation closes on 10th January 2018.
To view the Council's budget consultation, please click here.
To view Adrian Waite's response, please click here.