Congratulations to Cotswold District Council which is cutting its share of the Council Tax burden on residents by another five per cent.
This is all the more impressive as it follows a three per cent cut in 2014/15 and a five per cent reduction in 2013/14. Taking inflation into account, and a two-year freeze prior to these cuts, there is a real-terms cut of about 30 per cent over five years.
All of the council’s frontline services will be retained while charges for car parking are frozen. Building control fees are being cut by ten per cent.
The council leader Cllr Lynden Stowe said:
“It’s remarkable that we have been able to reduce Council Tax for three years in a row.
“Most of the savings we have achieved stem from the joint working we have undertaken with other Councils. We have developed a very close relationship with West Oxfordshire District Council over the last few years and now share around 80 posts, ranging from senior management to officer level. We have also established strong ties with Cheltenham and Forest of Dean Councils, sharing resources to carry out back-office jobs such as finance, HR and procurement (another 80 posts shared between all partners).
“The future looks bright as we embark on more work with these partners through the emerging 2020 Vision programme – looking ahead, this will enable us to pursue more work sharing and cost-cutting initiatives without compromising the independence or local decision-making of the participants and should save us all a total of over £50 million over ten years.
“Setting up the environmental services company Ubico Ltd with Cheltenham Borough Council has also been a positive experience. The company already expects to save £5 million in costs during its first five years of operations, and is currently preparing to add more Councils to its list of clients.
“Freezing costs for services produces real dividends – more people are coming through the doors of our leisure centres, and the take-up of the weekly green waste kerbside collection service continues to rise year on year. We have even reduced the cost of some parking charges and our car parks are well used as a result. This has all been achieved despite a 60 per cent plus reduction in core government grants to the Council over the last five years.
“Our Council Tax rate is one of our key indicators when we assess our overall efficiency. We have already assessed that we are one of the best performing local authorities in the country and this five per cent cut should help us keep that position.
“I have always maintained that it is not our job to take more money than we need to deliver our services to residents, and I am very pleased that we have been able to leave as much as possible in the taxpayer’s pocket. In fact, the real-terms reduction of 30 per cent over five years means that some £4.8m has remained in the local economy to stimulate prosperity. Residents across the Cotswolds can be assured that we are obtaining the best value for money possible, thanks to our cost saving measures. Our next big step – increased partnership working with Cheltenham, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire Councils – will enable us to work even more efficiently, and we will continue to look for further savings.”