GUEST COLUMN: Council tax frozen again, by Coun Martin Wright, leader of Mansfield’s Independent Forum

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Last Wednesday evening (January 20) saw Mansfield District Council agree the 2016-17 Budget and for the sixth successive year the Independent led administration delivered a zero increase in its council tax.

It now seems likely that all other authorities in Nottinghamshire will be proposing increasing their council tax rates by nearly two per cent with the county expected to table a four per cent increase.

Year on year reductions in the Government’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG) has made balancing the books for 2016-17 very difficult for the portfolio for resource holder Coun Roger Sutcliffe and the council’s finance team but due to good financial stewardship over the last twelve years a balanced budget was arrived at. Monies held in reserve have had to be used and efficiency savings made to make up the deficit left by a higher cut in RSG than had been expected plus an increase in employers National Insurance contributions. Since 2010 the RSG has dwindled from £10m per year to around £4m and by 2020 RSG will be around £2.7m, an overall cut of 71.4 per cent in ten years. The Local Government Association, who speak to government on the behalf of local authorities, is currently putting the case forward for a better local government settlement, cuts of the magnitude expected cannot go on forever, you cannot get blood from a stone no matter how hard you squeeze it.

In other news, Mansfield District Council and Nottinghamshire Police are working together to establish a community safety hub, to be located within the Civic Centre. Teams from the police and the council’s community safety department will come together to provide a joined up approach when dealing with crime, disorder and safety issues. A great deal of police time is currently taken up with issues which are within the council’s remit, hopefully the new arrangement will allow the police and the council to work more closely together by improving communication.

And finally, it was my pleasure to join a litter pick last Monday to mark the start of a one month anti-litter campaign in Forest Town following complaints from residents regarding the litter from the nearby takeaways and shops. Local businesses have pledged their support and are advising customers by handing out leaflets and putting warning stickers on take-away food packages. If this initiative proves to be a success it will be rolled out in other problematic areas of Mansfield.