Hear EHDC’s radical financial strategy at Alton Community Forum

East Hampshire District Council Leader, Cllr Ferris Cowper, will reveal progress made in the council’s radical plans to end reliance on Government money while maintaining public services, at the next Community Forum in Alton.

Cllr Cowper will outline the council’s budget for 2016/2017 at a meeting on Tuesday 26 January and will explain the council’s long term plans to free itself of reliance on annual Government grants and, if possible, reduce council tax to zero.

Cllr Cowper said: “The council’s financial strategy is quite radical. Nobody else in the country has a strategy like this.

“Our plan is to remove our reliance on Government grant by 2019/2020 while also maintaining all our key services to the public – that is unique in the UK.

“We are also hoping to have a Council Tax of zero by 2024.”

It is expected that general Government grants to councils, traditionally one of a local authority’s main sources of income will reduce by 48 per cent between 2016 and 2020 and eventually disappear altogether.

The council intends to make up this shortfall in cash through money-making business ventures, selling its services to other local authorities and through investment in blue-chip commercial properties.

People will have the chance to listen to the plans in detail and ask questions of Cllr Cowper at the meeting.

The meeting, to be held at Alton Community Centre, will also feature an important presentation on the Alton Neighbourhood Development Plan.

The plan will help to shape the town over the next decade and beyond as it will be used to guide planning decisions taken by East Hampshire District Council.

It includes policies on transport, housing, education and many other aspects of the town and will play an important part in guiding Alton’s evolution over the coming years.

Recent changes have been made by the planning inspectorate and these will be outlined by the people behind the document.

On Wednesday 24 February Alton residents will be asked to vote in a referendum on the plan.

Glynis Watts, chairman of the Community Forum, said: “Residents must soon decide whether they want to use the plan and then vote either for or against it at the referendum on 24 February.

“I would urge everyone in the town to take a look at the plan and understand it. You can read it online and you can come to events such as this to find out more about it.

“Come along to the meeting on 26 January and find out about the aims and objectives of the plan from the people involved.”

Residents can come and discuss the plan with members of the steering group from 6pm while the meeting begins at 6.30pm.

The Community Forum will be held at Alton Community Centre, Amery Street, on Tuesday 26 January.