Bradford Council is Conservative-led Council but unfortunatley as a minority administration. So the budget proposals of the leadership won't automatically be approved. Labour and the Lib Dems are both calling for Council Tax increases. However it is encouraging that a Council Tax freeze has been proposed by the Conservative administration. Cutting staffing levels and merging services have produced efficiency gains. This has released funding for priority initiatives. As a great Dolly Parton fan I'm particularly pleased they have found some money for an Imagination Library project.
Here are the details:
The Bradford Conservative Group has tabled budget proposals which would lead to a freeze in Council tax for every household in the district for the 2010-11 financial year – the first year of a
potential three-year “zero increase” settlement should a Conservative Government be elected at the forthcoming General Election.
In addition to £2.5 million of extra funding to support adult services, the Conservatives have proposed the creation of a £5 million strategic reserve to ensure the Council can continue to respond to the changing economic circumstances and task the management of the authority, through the present organisational review, to drive out even greater efficiencies and make the best possible savings for local residents in the years ahead.
The Conservative proposals also include significant increases in funding in a range of other areas including highways, gritting, recycling and community halls.
And there are a series of new initiatives including a city centre cycle race, an Imagination Library, a campaign to encourage older residents to take up benefits they are entitled to, a wave of community clean-ups plus extensions to the already very successful b someone campaign and Community Warmth scheme.
Conservative Group Leader Cllr Kris Hopkins commented:
“The Conservative budget proposals are the result of a lot of very hard work from Group Members, professionally assisted by Council officers, over the last number of months.
“We have been very conscious of the ongoing financial restraints not only on the Council but, more importantly, on local residents and that is underlined by our desire to see a freeze in Council Tax for the next 12 months.
“Given that a Conservative Government, if elected, has already committed to funding any Council Tax rises of up to 2.5% for all local authorities who stay at or below that figure for its first two years
in office, we hope Bradford district residents will therefore enjoy an
effective three-year freeze on their bills.
“Adult services are very much a priority for the Conservatives, as evidenced by the £2.5 million of additional funding we have made available to ensure that the needs of older residents in the district
will continue to be extremely well catered for.
“A few weeks ago we allocated £300,000 to fix potholes across the district following the long cold snap. But we must think into the longer term so, in addition to an extra £300,000 in one-off monies, we have increased the amount of funding going to highways by £800,000 on a permanent basis.
“We have also responded to residents’ concerns by providing £100,000 to provide new grit bins across the district together with £150,000 of new resources to ensure they are refilled promptly and efficiently at times of greatest need.
“And, in other areas, we are continuing to support the b someone campaign, Community Warmth, uniformed youth groups, community halls, recycling and the environment plus we have proposed a number of new ventures including the launch of a Bradford city cycling race – which we would intend to finance for at least two years – and an Imagination Library.
“Specific permanent funding has also been set aside to support the district’s St George’s Day celebrations and the civic Carol Service, and we have allocated £50,000 so we can begin planning now to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
“Add to all of this the £5 million strategic reserve coupled with the requirement for the Chief Executive to drive out efficiencies to ensure Bradford Council provides the best possible value for money for local residents, and I believe the Conservatives have put forward a budget which is responsible and very good news for this district.
“As a hung Council, I am obviously fully aware that we must work with the other political parties to find an agreed way ahead.
“I now look forward to sitting down with the other Group Leaders in the coming days to seek to do just that.”