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Uttlesford District Council's draft budget proposals for next year will see continued growth and investment in the services identified by residents as priorities.

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The proposals for 2018/19 include putting extra money across a range of services, including litter picking and police community support officers, as well as funding the final phases of the Local Plan and to support the proposed garden communities. Additional funds would also be earmarked to support the further rollout of superfast broadband across the district.

The programme of investment comes in the wake of continuing cuts to local authority funding by central government, which has seen Uttlesford facing a £2.5 million reduction in the funding it receives between 2016/17 and 2018/19. This shortfall will be partly bridged by a financial contribution of £2 million from Aspire (CRP) Ltd, the Council's company set up to manage its interest in Chesterford Research Park, underlining the importance of the Council's 50 per cent stake in the Park.

This year's budget proposals include raising the District Council element of Council Tax by 2.99 per cent, making the Band D charge £147.21 a year. Uttlesford's Council Tax is still lower per household than it was in 2010/11, and Uttlesford remains the lowest cost district council in Essex.

The increase would mean a Band D property pays an extra £4.28 a year for District Council services than in 2017/18.

Cllr Simon Howell, Cabinet Member for Finance & Administration, said: "Despite the challenging financial environment, we are putting forward a balanced budget proposal which invests in the priority areas identified by the public and where it will have the most impact and benefit for our residents.

"Through careful management of the Council's finances we have been able to keep Uttlesford a low cost, high quality council."

The budget proposals for 2018/19 have been put forward after taking into consideration the responses received in the budget and priority consultation held last summer. This saw over 1,800 residents and businesses prioritise which services are the most important to them.

The proposals will be discussed by the Scrutiny Committee on 6 February before going on to Cabinet on 15 February and Full Council for final approval on 22 February.

Full details can be viewed at www.uttlesford.gov.uk/budget2018-19

30 January 2018