Council launches ambitious Covid-19 recovery budget proposals
Published on 23rd December 2020
Deadline for comments - 27 January 2021.
Cheltenham Borough Council has put forward its ambitious draft recovery budget proposals for 2021/22 against the challenges of COVID-19 to support economic growth, climate change and its commitment to make Cheltenham the Cyber Capital of the UK.
The proposals – which are now open for public consultation – focus on a recovery that offers opportunities for jobs growth, investment, sustainable communities and tackling the climate emergency.
Key proposals within the draft budget papers include:
- The Golden Valley Development - home of Cyber Central UK sets a vision for a campus style development focused around innovation in the cyber sector, driving forward the UK’s mission to be a science superpower and global lead in cyber security. It also seeks to deliver up to 4,000 homes, directly contributing to another council priority regarding housing delivery and achieving a target of 40% affordable homes.
- Carbon neutrality - a renewed commitment to becoming a net zero carbon council and borough by 2030, this will allow the council to play its part in a collective national effort to rebuild. The budget proposals provide an additional finance to climate emergency initiatives on top of the funding already allocated
- Economic development - a key priority within the recovery strategy surrounds revitalising and reshaping the economy. The council aims to encourage collaboration across sectors to ensure that culture, hospitality and creativity is interweaved into its economic recovery plans particularly in enhancing the cyber investment plans, supporting the creative revitalisation of the High Street, and the imaginative use of local open spaces. The £5.2 million flagship scheme in the heart of Cheltenham town centre, known as the Minster Innovation Exchange, forms a huge part of realising this ambition. The budget proposes an additional £75,000 to ensure permanent resource is available to lead on recovery.
- Increasing apprenticeships - Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the UK’s employment, and young people have been hardest hit. The cabinet is committed to show leadership through investment in the future of apprenticeships and these budget proposals provide an additional £75,000 which will provide for a cohort of apprentices who will commence employment at the council in September 2021.
- Council tax – a proposed increase of 2.34% increase in council tax in 2021/22; an increase of £5.00 for the year for a Band D property (which government is indicating is permissible without trigging a referendum)
The District Council’s Network have been lobbying for district council’s to have greater flexibility to increase council tax by up to £10.00 for the year for a band D property to help tackle the financial impact of COVID-19. If this were permissible the cabinet would propose to earmark and ring-fence this additional sum to provide more funding to boost recovery by investing in projects that help meet the council’s stated ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030, and seeks views from the public as part of the budget consultation.
Paul Jones, executive director finance and assets, said: “The proposals set out in the 2021/22 budget, will ensure that we continue to invest in local services, support economic growth in our town particularly with the continued impact of the pandemic, and support residents - whilst continuing our commitment to becoming the Cyber Capital of the UK, which is critical to ensuring job growth and economic prosperity for the people and communities of Cheltenham.’’
Cllr Steve Jordan, cabinet member for finance continued: “Continued prudent, careful, yet bold decision making in our budget plans, along with our Covid-19 recovery plan, should go a long way towards ensuring that the council has a solid financial platform to lead recovery. Our pioneering initiatives such as the Golden Valley Development, £180m housing investment plan and the Minster Innovation Exchange put the council in a strong position to lead the recovery.”
“I hope that anyone who wishes to comment on our proposals will do so, before the deadline so that any comments can be taken into account ahead of the final proposals going to full council in February.’’
Residents, businesses and all partners can view the full council report and find details of the budget consultation, online at www.cheltenham.gov.uk/budget.
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