Archive for August, 2016
With an innovative strategy and ambitious targets, East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) is developing a new model of local government that will protect and improve services for the future.
East Hampshire District Council’s Annual Report 2015-16, which is called Overview, tracks the progress of the council in the last financial year, and there are many positives to take from it.
By finding alternative sources of income and making efficiencies during 2015-16, the council has been able to reduce its share of residents’ Council Tax by two per cent. EHDC is possibly the only council in the country to have done this.
The council is leading the way with the transformation of Whitehill & Bordon following the departure of the Army from the town. The town was awarded Healthy New Town status and this will make the town a blueprint for how other communities across the country can be healthier and more vibrant. Whitehill & Bordon is one of only 10 towns in the country to be named a Healthy New Town.
Over the year the council has delivered over 100 daily services to over 4,000 businesses and 116,000 people, with a keen eye on value for money and the needs of customers. The council has also achieved:
- Funding for sporting talent and apprenticeships, grants for local community groups and money into business start-ups that are supporting the district’s residents, businesses and visitors.
- Prudent investments in property that are providing better returns than low savings interest rates.
- Efficiencies are also being made, including joining with Havant Borough Council in an innovative procurement project to manage back office services that is forecast to save £3.8m over an eight year contract and a shared team managing a contract to deliver waste collection and landscape services.
Leader of EHDC, Councillor Ferris Cowper, said: “While other local authorities are cutting services and increasing Council Tax rates, East Hampshire District Council is bucking that trend.
“We realised long ago that local government can no longer expect to rely on grants from central government. That’s why we have been working towards removing our reliance on those grants by 2019-20. Cutting our share of Council Tax for 2016-17 was the first step towards independence.
“Our music festival, Butserfest continues to delight local young people and attract visitors from all over the country with the 10th Butserfest taking place on Saturday 10 September.
“We have funded Police Community Support Officers that are solely based in East Hampshire and are helping to maintain the safety of our communities.
“We have also helped local communities to develop neighbourhood plans, that are informing the decisions made by our planning committees and ensuring that new developments work for local people.
“Our ambitious and adaptable staff have embraced the challenges that have faced them, finding opportunities to improve services, save money and generate income.
“With devolution of powers on the government’s agenda, East Hampshire District Council is showing that taxpayers’ money is safe in our hands.”
To view the annual report online or download an interactive PDF, go to www.easthants.gov.uk/annualreport
The fight against fly-tipping is to be stepped up by East Hampshire District Council following Hampshire County Council’s decision to cut hours at waste recycling centres.
EHDC fears that an increase in fly-tipping will be the inevitable outcome – a view backed up by staff at the centres themselves.
A recent residents’ survey, which revealed that most people are ‘satisfied or more than satisfied’ with the way the district council conducts its business, pinpointed the issue as one of the big bugbears of their lives.
District council leader Cllr Ferris Cowper said: “The inevitable increase in the curse of fly-tipping was simply ignored by the Leader of Hampshire County Council when he tried to defend his policy of cutting hours at the centres, closing them altogether on Thursdays and charging some people to use them.
“I know very well that for many of our residents fly-tipping is a nightmare which looks terrible, causes accidents from concealed sharp objects, destroys the appearance of their local community, encourages anti-social behaviour and even contributes to the spread of diseases. The local East Hampshire District Council is strongly opposed to these closures and we are deeply disappointed that the county council over in Winchester sees fit to press ahead despite being clearly warned of the consequences.
“I have met with my Cabinet and senior district council officers to judge our response. We know already from our recent residents’ survey that our fly-tipping service is considered important and is well regarded. We also run a highly respected “zero tolerance” service on littering. As a result we are now evaluating the idea of investing more money in our littering zero tolerance service and extending that to the fly-tipping issue. We have to be ready with extra resources to clamp down on this nasty problem when the county council presses ahead with its regrettable closure programme.
“East Hampshire residents can be assured that EHDC will be investing in extra measures to deal with the consequences of the county council’s decision. Obviously the county council’s cost saving benefits to the public purse evaporate quickly when your local district council has to spend more money to clear up the ensuing mess.
“It’s all very well for the Leader of the county council to promote a County Unitary in his response, which would end your local district council, but based on this example, the County Unitary idea will put cost savings ahead of service provision. That’s not my view at EHDC and I don’t think it’s your view as local residents and businesses. County Unitarisation is a one trick pony; it cuts costs, but at what cost? EHDC cuts costs, cuts Council Tax, improves and adds new services and does all of this at record satisfaction levels.”
The Serving Hampshire Consultation sets out the potential options for how Hampshire County Council and the 11 district councils in Hampshire could change, or be reorganised, to meet the huge challenges from ongoing cuts in funding from central Government and rising demand for services from a growing population.
Please tell us what you think. The consultation is available here: www.hants.gov.uk/servinghampshire. It closes on 20 September.