12p or not 12p? Forest of Dean bosses outline budget rise
By Simon Hacker | 9th February 2024
After asking residents what they want, Forest of Dean District Council has sorted some late edits to its proposed budget - the key aim being to ringfence local services amid a strangled supply of cash from the government.
Agreeing on the amended draft for spending in 2024- 2025, FoDDC's cabinet says it is now in brace position against more cuts to vital community finance.
The headline figure is 12p per week - a sum proposed as the increase on a typical band D property. This rise, says FoDDC, is necessary to allow for the funding deal it gets from central government.
Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Andy Moore told Punchline-Gloucester.com: "We've seen significant cuts to our funding from Government. We have managed our finances well, which means we aren't in an immediate crisis, but a funding review of local government due in 2026 could see our budget slashed by a further 30% and we must plan for that."
Cllr Moore added: "We have had to raise charges on some of our services that will enable the Council to continue to provide the key services that residents rely on, including our work to prevent people becoming homeless, providing leisure services, bin collections and many others. It also enables us to reinvest money to maintain and improve the car parks and facilities, benefiting both businesses and residents of the Forest of Dean."
Cllr Mark Topping, FoDDC leader, thanked respondents for the insight garnered from the views they had added to the consultation.
He added: "The feedback around car parking charges showed that many people understand why charges need to be raised, but that they felt there needed to be more free spaces available in our car parks. We have listened to residents feedback, and we are proposing car parks will be free for the first hour, but that charges for longer stays will be raised."
As well as helping local people needing to visit the shops or the doctor's surgery, the change – as reported yesterday in Punchline – are also geared to increase revenue to maintain and make improvements to the district's car parks and toilets.
He said: "We also believe that by expanding the free parking in our car parks it will reduce the number of people parking on residential streets, on kerbs and other places. Helping to make the roads and pavements around our town centres safer for residents."
FoDDC's public service remit includes waste collection, planning, licensing, housing, parking, and leisure, while Shire Hall delivers services such as road maintenance, adult social care, education, children's services, and public health. FoDDC receives just 9% of the total council tax bill, the overall bill being split between the District Council, County Council, police, and fire service.
With the draft budget proposal now agreed by FoDDC's cabinet, it will go to a full council meeting on the February 22nd and, if agreed, be locked in for the coming financial year.
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