IT’S all about the economy.
Europe continues to stagnate, the power houses of China and America begin to feel the pain of a reduction in manufacturing orders, inflation in the UK is on the rise, and Germany on its own cannot carry Europe. Although the Government has reduced our deficit by 25 per cent since coming to power, the UK is still massively in debt, and will remain so for decades.
It’s a bleak picture, and one that has a clear impact on our council and the services we provide. We are facing reduced grants from Government, so need to find new ways to plug the gaps, such as the New Homes Bonus, Community Infrastructure Levy and business rate retention.
Against all this, your council has made massive capital investments; in the Harborough Innovation Centre, in the Market Hall refurbishment plans, in the Adam and Eve Street headquarters redevelopment, in the new waste and recycling scheme, in improved telephony and ITC, and in shared services for revenues and benefits to squeeze out efficiencies and savings.
With the support of unions and staff we have made fantastic improvements to internal structures and ways of working.
A cultural change is under way.
The purpose of these investments, which will pay for themselves over five years, is to save money for taxpayers while continuing to deliver the services people tell us they want. We simply could not go on cutting staff, cutting services and increasing our call on your purse.
The ultimate paymaster for all this investment is the ability of the district council to encourage jobs and economic development. We need skilled people and entrepreneurs in a settled community intent on sustainable growth.
This means dynamism on the high street and in our factories, which cater for worldwide markets. Harborough district has some superb world-quality businesses already, and we need more.
It also means houses, and the right infrastructure to support them.
Without such a world view we cannot even have a backyard to protect!
Your council must support the fundamentals of sustained growth and job creation, and must do so in the most sustainable way possible. That is the basis on which a master plan for housing development in the north-west [Airfield Farm] of the town is being discussed.
No one wants housing on their doorstep, I well know, but no one in Harborough can swim against the tide of progress when it is enshrined in national policy, delivers the necessary infrastructure, and is deemed to be for the benefit of our nation.
Cllr Michael Rook,
Leader of Harborough Council