Congratulations to Conservative-run Cotswold District Council on cutting its share of local residents’ Council Tax payments by three per cent for 2014-15, following a five per cent cut last year.

Last year’s reduction was hailed as the biggest cut in the country and it is expected that this latest three per cent cut will probably be the joint biggest – joint with my council of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Council Leader, Cllr Lynden Stowe, says that all the frontline services would be retained and that there would be no increases car parking charges.

This has all been achieved despite government grants to the Council being halved over the last four years.

Cllr Stowe says:

“We hit the headlines last year when we undercut every other local authority with our 5 per cent reduction in Council Tax and I think our 3 per cent reduction for 2014-15 will probably be the joint biggest cut in the country this time around..

“Our Council Tax rate is one of the key indicators we take into account to assess our overall efficiency.  A recent report showed that we are now one of the top five most efficient councils in the country, and this 3 per cent cut should help us maintain our progress.

“Residents across the Cotswolds can be assured that we are committed to obtaining the best value for money possible, thanks to a range of cost-saving measures, most notably our joint working with West Oxfordshire District Council which will soon include the integration of our senior management teams. We have developed many shared services with West Oxfordshire, and other Councils, over the years and, by 2017/18, joint working is expected to save the council £1.5m per annum.

“Additionally our partnership with Cheltenham Borough Council has seen the establishment of Ubico Ltd, a joint local authority company, which provides waste and recycling services for both authorities. The first year-end trading figures for the company showed that it made substantial savings of £1 million for 2012-13, compared with a target figure of £500,000, and the switch to Ubico also allowed us to introduce kerbside plastic recycling to the district for the very first time.

“We are also very pleased to see that the decision to transfer the running of three leisure centres and the Corinium Museum to SLM is delivering significant savings.  This will save the Council about £3 million over the 10 years of the contract while ensuring excellent levels of service. In fact, gym membership at all three leisure centres (Bourton, Cirencester and Chipping Campden) has grown by 25 per cent or more since the transfer.”

“All of these measures, and other cost-saving initiatives in the pipeline, will enable us to guarantee a freeze on charges for Council Tax, car parking, leisure fees and green waste collection until at least 2016.

“It’s a pleasure to pass on some of the substantial savings we have made to the taxpayer for the second year in a row, especially when most cost of living charges are on the rise. Leaving more money in people’s pockets can only be good for our local economy”