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Stevenage Council budget shaped by residents’ priorities

05 Mar 2018

Stevenage Borough Councillors have unanimously agreed the council’s budget for 2018/19. Amid continuing cuts in government funding, councillors pledged to continue meeting local people’s priorities for the town – town centre regeneration, quality housing, and safe and secure neighbourhoods.

At a Full Council meeting last week (28 February), Leader Cllr Sharon Taylor told councillors, “I’m proud that here in Stevenage this council is managing to maintain services that people tell us they value. Our efficiencies and improvements can only take us so far and, in order to continue to maintain services, we must increase Council Tax again.”

All councillors attending the meeting voted to approve the budget.

Council Tax paid to Stevenage Borough Council for a Band D property will go up by £5.94 (2.99%). Each Band C household will next year pay Stevenage Borough Council £181.74. That’s 50p a day for more than 120 services, including doorstep refuse and recycling collections, maintenance of parks and green spaces, the play service and play areas, community safety, cemeteries, environmental health, and leisure and cultural facilities such as the Museum.

With an increase in Hertfordshire County Council’s element of 5.99% including a 3% rise for the social care precept, and a 7.89% increase from Hertfordshire Police, council tax levels for Stevenage will increase by 5.8% for 2018/19. For a Band D property, the total council tax charge will be £1,688.92.

Cllr Taylor also unveiled plans for spending this year’s New Homes Bonus, the grant paid by the government for the provision of new housing.

Cllr Taylor said: “Over the past few years we’ve used our New Homes Bonus money to pilot some innovative schemes. Many of these, including our neighbourhood wardens and our work to address domestic abuse and anti-social behaviour, are now embedded in our daily work. This year we’ve been allocated just under £1.1m and, from this, I’m proposing to invest in projects and initiatives that support health and wellbeing and co-operative neighbourhood working, as well as celebrating some important anniversaries. 

“As part of our efforts to work co-operatively with Stevenage residents at a neighbourhood level, I want to fund a fourth neighbourhood warden so that the team can cover a wider area of the town. And I’d like to set aside £40,000 that local people can spend on their own neighbourhood priorities – they’re far better placed than we are to make those decisions and, working co-operatively with them we can reap mutual benefits.

“I’m proposing to build on the success of last year’s Stevenage Cycling Festival, with an investment of £90,000 in a summer-long initiative promoting the benefits of cycling to local people. The 2018 Cycling Festival will launch with the Tour Series on Spring Bank Holiday Monday and will see a programme of activity throughout the summer, celebrating our 25 miles of cycle track and promoting the benefits of fresh air and exercise to people of all ages and abilities.

“We can make a further contribution to the environment and wellbeing of local people and their family budgets by investing in more sustainable transport solutions, and I’m proposing to do this by spending £15k to fund two more charging points for electric vehicles in town centre parking bays.

“Stevenage is rich in culture and creativity: art, music, theatre, literature, film and this year we will launch ambitious plans to share our cultural offer more widely and make Stevenage a destination creative town. This will enhance quality of life for all of us and bring us the social and economic benefits associated with a thriving creative environment. I’m proposing £40,000 to support this and to fund a temporary staff member to make our plans a reality.

“Among the events that we already offer is Stevenage Day. Over the past few years, we’ve grown and evolved the event to attract a wider range of visitors and we’d like to continue building on the success of that so I’m planning an investment of £10,000 this year, and I’m confident that the income generated by Stevenage Day for charities and local groups will far outweigh that investment. I’m also planning to further support the successful programme of events in our town centre, to the tune of £10,000, improving the vibrancy of the area and attracting new users for local shops and businesses.

“Later this year, we will honour the legacy of the suffragettes in a series of events and initiatives to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act. An investment of £7,000 will support us to bring the achievements of these revolutionary women to the forefront of Stevenage people’s minds. And, continuing to apply the lessons that history has taught us, we will be working with the British Legion to observe another centenary in 2018. I’m proposing to spend £7,000 on events to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War and ensure that we will remember them.”

Cllr Taylor concluded by saying: “Here at Stevenage Borough Council, we will continue to work together for the people in our town, even as we face continuing adversity and resources are disappearing in front of our eyes. This budget gives us the capacity to carry on delivering excellent services over another year.”

-ends-

Notes to editors:
The total Council Tax bill for Stevenage for 2017/2018 will be:
Band A £1,125.95
Band B £1,313.60
Band C £1,501.26
Band D £1,688.92
Band E £2,064.24
Band F £2,439.55
Band G £2,814.87
Band H £3,377.84

For every pound of council tax paid, Hertfordshire County Council gets 73p plus 5p for social care, Hertfordshire Police get 10p and Stevenage Borough Council gets 12p.