News release from 21/02/2019
Council will be ‘green to our core’ as Business Plan and budget agreed
Pictured above: Lead Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr John Williams, presents the budget proposals to full Council.
Protecting and enhancing the environment to cut carbon emissions has been put at the heart of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s plan to improve life for local communities.
Councillors backed the Business Plan at a Council meeting today (Thursday 21 February) where the Council’s budget for next financial year was also agreed.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Bridget Smith, described the plan as “ambitious” and said that it will stretch the Council to meet the needs and priorities of local people.
The four priority areas agreed were:
- Growing local businesses and economies – which includes putting in place a single point of contact to support businesses through the planning process and making it easier for small local businesses to bid for Council contracts.
- Housing that is affordable for everyone to live in – which will see the Council double the number of Council homes built each year, deliver high environmental standards on new homes to reduce running costs and focus on working with partners to make sure walking, cycling and public transport improvements provide alternatives to using the private car.
- Being green to our core – by the Council developing a plan for a carbon-neutral future for South Cambridgeshire, exploring opportunities for green energy generation and improving air quality.
- A modern and caring Council – by being an employer of choice for people with disabilities and ethnic minorities, generating an income from investments to offset cuts to national funding and improving the way people can carry out transactions online.
At the meeting the Council’s budget was also agreed. This included plans to generate a quarter of the money the Council spends on services from investments within five years.
By the end of March 2024, Council investments are forecasted to return an income of just over £5 million a year which will be used to protect the services people want and need.
The Council’s administration has said that they want a range of investments in the district to generate a return in a way that also delivers on the priorities of local people and makes a positive contribution to the area.
Investments could include investing to help provide space for small and growing businesses which will fill a recognised gap and make a return for the Council. This will also help businesses grow and create new jobs for local people.
The Council also wants to invest to deliver improvements in communities that have not been delivered commercially by the private sector. This could help deliver more homes or facilities for communities or improve the green credentials of a development to make sure it is of the highest standard.
Ahead of agreeing the Business Plan, the Council had already demonstrated its green commitments by unanimously pledging to support an ambitious target of cutting local carbon emissions across the district to zero by 2050. Solar panels are being installed this week on the Council’s waste and recycling depot at Waterbeach and further green investments are expected on the Council buildings to improve environmental standards deliver a financial return.
The Council also wants to explore new opportunities for green investments in the district.
Councillors also agreed at the meeting a £5 per year increase in Council Tax for the average band D home. This is the equivalent of 10 extra pence per week. Even with the increase in Council Tax the Council must save a further £3 million over the next five years.
The Council’s average band D charge for 2019/20 will be £145.31, retaining its place as one of the lowest taxing district councils in the country.
The Council’s total budget it has available to spend on services in 2019/20 is nearly £21 million.
Cllr Bridget Smith (pictured - above), Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “We have listened to our communities and set an ambitious plan that will really stretch us. We are not simply about meeting the targets set nationally on environmental issues, we want to make sure we are green to our core and the environment is considered as a key part of everything we do. Our future generations deserve nothing less and their passion to help us create a cleaner, greener and low carbon future was demonstrated only last week when national protests were held to demand more action on the issue.
“As expected, the affordability of housing and lack of transport alternatives to the car are big issues people have told us need to be addressed and we want to start by doubling the number of homes we build for people on our waiting lists.”