Round-up of cuts and extra charges announced for Northampton by Guildhall leaders

Guildhall leaders sprang a surprise by revealing their budget earlier than they said they would
Guildhall leaders sprang a surprise by revealing their budget earlier than they said they would

Northampton Borough Council’s draft budget has now been published and will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, 20 December.

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This year’s budget is set against a backdrop of a new environmental services contract and the need for a robust medium-term financial plan.

Last winter, the council consulted the public over the importance of environmental services, including bin collections and recycling, street cleaning and management of open spaces.

Around 8,000 people responded to the consultation and their overwhelming opinion was that the service needed to be the very best it can be.

As a result, the council looked at all available options including bringing the service in-house, which independent experts Eunomia advised against as it would not deliver the service cost-effectively.

The contract was put out to tender and from a large number of initial bids, the list was shortened to five and then two. These final bids are now being considered against the council’s strict criteria.

From summer 2018, environmental services will cost Northampton taxpayers up to an additional £3.4 million annually.

This impacts on the council’s medium-term plans, contributing to an anticipated funding gap of around £11.2 million in the next five years.

Cllr Brandon Eldred, Cabinet member for finance, said: “Residents have made it very clear that environmental services are very important to them.

“Everyone is affected by it, and we understand that nothing but the best is acceptable, so we are making sure the appropriate levels of investment are available.

“Following several years of cuts to funding from central Government, we have gradually cut our back-office services to the point where there is little more to be saved there.

“Even so, we have taken another look and believe further restructuring could help, but that is far from enough to bridge the budget gap.

“This does mean we have had to take some difficult decisions and we understand that some of them will not be popular.”

Proposals include:

Increased daily parking charges from £7 to £8

Introduction of a £2 flat charge in multi-storey car parks at weekends

A small reduction in the voluntary and community grants pot

Increased planning fees

A small saving on Northampton in Bloom

A reduction in the Council’s events programme

The Council is also proposing a council tax increase of 2.34 per cent which is equivalent to £5 per year at band D.

Visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Q756QMW to engage with the consultation.