A seven week consultation has been launched on what Harrogate Borough Council’s spending priorities should be for 2016/17.
One of the most important factors in setting the council’s budget is ensuring finances match priorities. The consultation will provide residents and businesses with the opportunity to have their say on the services which are important to them.
The council’s central government grant has reduced by £5.4 million (54 per cent) over the last five years. The consultation is taking place in a climate where further reductions in the grant are expected in the future. Latest projections suggest that the council will have to make around £1.65 million in savings to balance the budget in 2016/2017.
Due to good financial management, the council has been able to freeze its element of the council tax for the last six years. This has been achieved by plugging the funding gap by making major efficiency and transformational service savings, and as a result, limiting cuts to frontline services.
As part of the consultation, the council is asking residents for their views on what the authority’s priorities should be in the future. To help people decide, the questionnaire includes details of how much was spent per person last year on the council’s different frontline service areas.
The service areas include:
- Housing and Homelessness
- Waste and Recycling
- Community Safety
- Parks and Open Spaces
- Tourism and Museums
- Street Cleaning
- Sports and Leisure
- Harrogate International Centre
- and Planning and Development
Councillor Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said:
I hope people will take time to look at this important consultation document. Every year the council has to balance the money it plans to spend against the money available from the central government grant, council tax and business rates.
It is important that we manage our budget carefully. We must look at what savings can be made, consider what opportunities are available to generate income in the future and ensure that we are able to continue providing residents and visitors to the district with the services that matter to them.
We must focus on the people’s priorities when balancing the budget. To help us establish what these are, the council’s budget consultation lists a broad range of frontline services that it provides, along with a series of questions to establish what people consider its priorities to be.
We are in a much stronger position than many district councils in that we have been able to absorb many of the cuts in our grant without it affecting the level of service we provide.
Each year it is getting more difficult, and we welcome the views of residents and businesses as to where we should be putting our financial resources. Together we can develop the best possible budget for the people of the district.
The consultation questionnaire is available on the council’s website at http://www1.harrogate.gov.uk/surveys/Budget/snemma3.htm or go to the home page at www.harrogate.gov.uk and click on ‘Have Your Say’
Paper copies of the questionnaires are available from Emma McIntosh, Engagement Officer with Harrogate Borough Council. Telephone (01423) 500600 ext 58095 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as residents and businesses, members of the council’s 850-strong District Panel, made up of people from all backgrounds and age groups, will be filling in the questionnaire and the consultation document is also going to parish councils for discussion.
The consultation closes at midday on Friday 13 November 2015.