People in Chorley will see all their services protected and major investment schemes benefitting people right across the borough continue as Chorley Council continues to do its best for residents amidst huge cuts in its funding.
Councillors described the budget setting process as ‘the most difficult decisions the council has had to take in many years’ after agreeing a council tax increase of two per cent, the first increase in seven years.
The budget outlines a gloomy financial picture but shows Chorley is better placed than most to tackle the challenges ahead with continued investment in major projects to bring income in to the borough in return for residents paying an extra seven pence per week in council tax.
Councillor Peter Wilson, Deputy Leader of Chorley Council, said: “Since we announced the proposals in January what we have found is that the majority of people are supportive of what we are doing because they can see we are doing our best in extremely difficult circumstances.
“Our Government grant will have completely disappeared by 2020 – that’s a huge loss of £3.8m since 2013/14 and not only that they are going to be introducing a tariff which means they will actually be taking money off us.
“The formula for New Homes Bonus is being changed so we are losing out on about another £1.6m and now Lancashire County Council is pulling our recycling subsidy due to the cuts they’re facing, which is another £1m per year we have to find. All this is set against a backdrop of increasing demands on our services.
“The changes that we are having to make are a result of years of government cuts hitting home and despite making savings of £4.5million over the last few years we now have little choice but to ask residents to contribute a bit more.”
The headlines from this year’s budget include:
• Delivery of major projects with significant investment in:
o Market Walk extension
o Primrose Gardens Retirement Village
o Digital Health Park
o Chorley Youth Zone
• No cuts in services
• Continue to fund PCSOs
• A budget gap of £3.17m by 2020
• A proposed council tax increase of two per cent, which equates to seven pence per week.
• Introduction of an opt in £30 charge for garden waste collections to cover the £1m subsidy cut by Lancashire County Council – if people don’t want to sign up they can home compost, take it to the tip or consider sharing with a neighbour and splitting the cost.
“It’s a judgement call but we feel that the extra 7p per week we are asking for is a fair price to pay if in return we can maintain all services, continue to deliver major investment projects for the borough that will generate much-needed income and create new jobs and step in when required to offset cuts from other organisations by keeping libraries open and buses running,” said Cllr Wilson.
“The feedback we got from the consultation was mainly positive and I think people do expect to pay a bit more now because they understand the financial pressure we are under but they do want to see value for their money.
“I believe with the plan we’ve got in place we can deliver that for residents right across the borough and continue to make people proud of their communities.
“This is one of the toughest budgets we’ve had to set and it’s going to get even more difficult over the next few years so we really appreciate the support we get from residents.”
You can view the agenda papers for the budget with all the background information here