Posted: 01.03.21 at 06:00 by Alastair McCraw
REPORT TO PARISH, BRANTHAM WARD
Babergh District Councillor Alastair McCraw
As we approach the Council year-end, we take stock and set our Budgets. The Council are legally obliged to set a balanced budget. Mid-2020, with falling income and unprecedented pressures in supporting the community, we wondered if we would be able to. Fortunately, a considerable amount of support has come from Westminster. Not all we needed, but enough to keep things going.
The falling Covid-19 rates and vaccination roll out make it possible to better predict the year. The Babergh portion of the Council Tax (10% ish) is proposed to rise by £5 a year for a Band D property. That’s just under a 3% increase. To give a perspective, the largest share of Council Tax goes to SCC (nearly three quarters). The expected rise there will be 4%, composed of 2% for the Council and 2% for Social Care. The Police precept (13%) will rise by £15 a year, a 6.7% increase. Locally, Brantham Parish Council (2%) are precepting for an extra 2%, or £1 a year. The total effect on your Council Tax bill will be an increase of just over 4%.
At Babergh, I’m glad to say, that changes to services are small. We lose the free swims for a year, hoping to reinstate later, but the Hadleigh Pool work has been completed and a much better facility is in place. There has been a lot of public attention given to changes to parking charges in Hadleigh and Sudbury. The COVID-19 situation will delay these to at least October, possibly later. The fact is that these car parks are in a shocking state, and need work done to bring provisions up to standard. It isn’t fair for the entire District to subsidise the running costs. There aren’t many comparable places where you only get charged £1 after the first hour or £2 after two hours. People go where there is somewhere convenient and something to go to, not because the parking is completely free.
The other issue, in some people’s eyes, has been the change to Public Access in Sudbury. Sudbury Town Council and Babergh were unable to agree on a new contract, so the service will be provided in partnership with Suffolk Libraries. It will still be open 5 days a week, with Babergh staff always available remotely. On two days a week they will be at the Library for face-to-face contact. A petition recently quoted the 6,400 hours of assistance given in 6 months of 2020. Breaking that down, that’s 107 hours or 17 hours a month, less than an hour per working day. Having full time staff available on hand all week for so little use doesn’t make sense. There are better ways of doing it. All the staff will be transferring to work in the Council Customer Services team. Additionally, there are support measures that were not available before, including equipment loans and help in digital support.
One of the things I’ve always thought we should be doing is building, and buying, more Council housing stock. The budget includes our plans for borrowing £40M to build 250 new houses across the districts. These are self-financing and involve no cost to the taxpayer.
OTHER BABERGH BUSINESS.
There is always work progressing throughout the Council. Our waste emissions from diesel in our vehicle fleet will be cut by up to 90%, as we move to cleaner fuel. A new Independent Living Service is replacing the previously broken arrangements across the County. A new automated phone service is being trialled that will allow contact with us 24/7.
The Joint Local Plan is expected to be adopted in the coming months. Finally, the 2021 Census will be held on Sunday, March 21st and you will all be receiving details shortly.
COVID-19 CONTACT POINTS.
Gov.uk. / Babergh.gov.uk. / 0300 123 4000 / Suffolk.gov.uk/ tendringdc.gov.uk
HOME, BUT NOT ALONE on 0800 876 6926 is there to find volunteer support for anybody in need.
Nobody is invulnerable, Everybody is responsible. Stick with it Suffolk!
Try the Facebook Group (renamed) for more up to date information. I look forward to being able to get out more in the next three months. Please stay safe. Contact me at need.
Alastair McCraw. 07812 564188 OR 07548 154296 [email protected]
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