Residents have three weeks to comment on Ashfield District Council budget proposals

Ashfield District Council deputy leader Don Davis and leader Cheryl Butler.
Ashfield District Council deputy leader Don Davis and leader Cheryl Butler.

Ashfield District Council is planning its Budget for the financial year, which begins in April 2018.

Residents have been invited to comment on a consultation for the proposed changes, before January 12.

On its Budget Factsheet published online, council chiefs say the authority has to make up a £.78 million hole in its budget.

The authority is continuing to borrow to invest in commercial property after buying three convenience stores and a hotel this year which it claims is generating up to £42,000 per year in income.

It is proposing to transfer housing staff from Brook street Sutton to the council offices in Kirkby, in order to let the office space.

The council proposes to install solar penels on Hucknall and Lammas leisure centres which could generate £26,000 a year.

A council spokesman said: “Like all councils and companies, we must plan to live within means. Ashfield District Council has seen Government funding cut by over 50 per cent since 2010 from £13.6m to £6.6m per year. Over a number of years, the Council has reduced its expenditure to meet this challenge, whilst at the same time seeking to protect and improve its services.”

The Budget Fact Sheet 2017/18 outlines the Councils strategy to meet the financial challenges it faces and how the council took on peoples’ views following last years consultation.

Residents can view a copy of the Budget Fact Sheet online at https://www.ashfield.gov.uk/media/3801/adc-budget-summary-november-2017final.pdf or pick up a copy from the Councils offices in Kirkby, Sutton or Hucknall.

The survey is here : https://www2.ashfield.gov.uk/limesurvey/index.php/247173?lang=en


The Council’s Strategy

Ashfield District Council is planning its Budget for the financial year, which begins in April 2018.

Like all councils and companies, we must plan to live within means.

Ashfield District Council has seen Government funding cut by over 50 per cent since 2010 from £13.6m to £6.6m per year. Over a number of years, the

Council has reduced its expenditure to meet this challenge, whilst at the same time seeking to protect and improve its services.

We have done this by reducing the number and layers of management,by sharing services with Mansfield and other councils, by raising more income where we can, and by reducing the number of buildings we occupy.

Ashfield is not unique; all councils have been finding savings since 2011/12 and will be doing so at least until the end of this decade.

Residents tell us that they value the services we provide, and we want to retain and improve those services.

We believe that by continuing to review and modernise operations, and by making the best of the commercial opportunities, we can reduce the negative impact on services.

Based on current assumptions for future funding and costs we have a £3.78m hole in budget.

To meet the financial challenge, the Council has set out a strategy that focuses on the following areas.

1 Investing in new business ventures and services which respond to local needs but which also generate additional income to help meet reductions in government funding;

2 Review all existing services over five years to ensure they are efficient and meeting customer needs, making efficiency savings where we can;

3 Introduce technology to reduce costs and make the council as efficient as possible;

4 Review and consolidate buildings, sharing with other public sector partners where possible, to reduce costs;

5 To review procurement of goods and services to ensure we are cutting the costs for utilities and consumables;

6 Invest in green technology and power to reduce energy costs.

Council Reserves

The Council has a number of reserves (as detailed in public accounts). The Council has set aside £6.3m as allocated reserves to

help meet the cost of modernising services like investing in technology, improving Council assets and to meet costs not covered in annual

budgets.

Alongside this we are using main balance (General Fund balance) of £4.4m to support annual running costs and this will reduce to a minimum £1.35m as we use it to support services.

HRA Reserve

The Council also has a Housing Revenue Account which has a balance

of £23.7m*, plus allocated reserves of £477k. These can only be used to fund and invest in council housing services.

Residents took part in a consultation which made far reaching changes in 2017.

Modernising payments

The council has now closed the cash offices in Sutton, Kirkby , Hucknall and Selston . Payments via online, direct debit and phone have increased resulting in annual savings of up to £90,000.

73 per cent agreed .

Glass collection

Blue boxes have now been replaced with larger wheelie bins for glass recycling . In august the council rolled out the new bins with eight-weekly collections startin gin September 2017. 60 per cent agreed.

Leisure provision

Residents said they did not want Edgewood Leisure centre at Hucknall to close - it remains open.

Commercial investment

The council has recently borrowed money to invest in a number of commercial properties including three convenience stores and ahotel which will provide an income of up to £42,000 every year reducing cuts to services. 56 per cent agreed.

In addition the copuncil had a senior management team restructure which saved £58,000.

The Future

In 2018 we’ll be looking at a number of ways we can streamline and

improve services, generate income and save money. These include:

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Commercial Investment

Ashfield District Council will continue to borrow to invest in commercial property. Following the investment in buying three convenience stores and a hotel, the Council is looking into further investment opportunities

that will generate an income that can be put towards funding services.

The Council is managing the risk that these investments bring. We believe the risk is better than cutting services.

Office Relocation

The Council brought in house Ashfield Homes Ltd last year, saving £600k of funding. As part of the ongoing integration, we are reviewing office space and propose to transfer housing staff from Brook Street, Sutton to

the Council offices in Kirkby. Staff roles will stay the same but their office location would change. Services will not be affected.

The Council will maintain a customer service point in Sutton, but proposes to relocate the majority of staff from Brook Street to Kirkby in order to let the building as office space, generating an income for the council.

Solar Panels

The Council has invested in installing solar panels on the Northern Depot and Summerhill Court, which will provide an income of £8,500 in offset energy costs and direct income from Feed in Tariffs. The Council

proposes to invest in installing solar panels on Hucknall and LammasLeisure Centres. The investment could provide the Council with a gross income of £26,000 per year.