Harborough District Council has approved its budget – with no rise to its share of the council tax – which the council says puts residents’ priorities first.
On Monday, Harborough District Council approved its budget for 2019/20 with plans for investment – more than £57 million over the next three years – in a number of services which residents and businesses said were important to them.
The Grow on Space hub for expanding businesses – set to bring £20million into the local economy – will be completed this year, as well as investment into parks, open spaces and play areas.
Major investment is also planned into leisure opportunities and outreach activities, as well as community facilities, CCTV, voluntary services, affordable homes to help those people struggling to find a home, and disabled facility (home improvement) grants to help those with mobility issues remain in their own homes.
The longer-term plan to improve the council’s existing leisure centres in the district is also continuing.
The council – which last year received national recognition for Efficiency in the Local Government Chronicle Awards – said it was responding to the challenge of reduced government funding and increased cost pressures by looking at ways it can invest in commercial property, generate income and use its assets in more innovative ways – for example; this month the council created a theatre venue at Harborough Market, which it owns, to host top comedy acts as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival.
Cllr Neil Bannister, leader of Harborough District Council, said: “By being innovative and proactive and looking at ways to generate income or make shrewd commercial investments – we are able to be more resilient against continued reductions in government funding so we can keep council tax at the same level as last year.”
Cllr James Hallam, Harborough District Council’s portfolio holder for finance and assets, said: “We are very proud that our budget puts residents first and invests in the services they said they want. Also, by not increasing our share of Council Tax, it goes some way to reducing the burden of household bills.”
Aspects highlighted as important in the recent Residents’ Survey, carried out by the council, included clean and safe streets, parks, affordable housing, access to nature, activities for teenagers, plus sport and leisure activities and opportunities.
Harborough District Council's tax level equates to £167.97 per year for the average Band D home. It makes up around 10 per cent of the total council tax bill faced by households.
The district council's tax precept is added to those from Leicestershire County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Combined Fire Authority and the various parish councils to give the total bill each home has to pay.
While Harborough District has not increased its demands, the other authorities have. The Police and Crime Commissioner has increased by £24, 12.05 per cent. The Fire Authority has increased their council tax levels by 2.98 per cent. Leicestershire County Council has increased its council tax by 2.99 per cent plus a further one per cent in respect of an adult social care precept, giving a total increase of 3.99 per cent. Special Expenses are levied for specific communities and parish councils set their own precepts.