Mid Suffolk: Opposition council group puts forward budget plan
06:00 19 February 2014
Urgent investment is needed in the economy from a multi-million pound pot of money available to a district council, according to the opposition group.
The Suffolk Together, Green and Independent Group at Mid Suffolk District Council has made its proposals ahead of a crunch budget meeting next week.
Opposition councillors said the council should spend more of its near-£3.5million it has in New Homes Bonus money – cash from the Government to provide incentives for house-building.
Conservative Derrick Haley, leader of the council, said he would not respond directly to the opposition group’s proposals. He added he could not comment on the plans as he said they had not been sent to him in person.
Green councillor Andrew Stringer, is the opposition group leader, he said: “We agree with the overall direction of the budget, which is almost identical to our proposals last year including the need for a 1.7% increase in council tax to maintain future levels of income.
“However, the administration should have got on with more of the projects we proposed last year, although we do welcome the allocation of cash to start putting photo-voltaic panels on some council houses.”
He said there was a need to bring projects forward which would pump council money into the economy. This investment would then bring added revenue back to Mid Suffolk through New Homes Bonus money and business rates.
Mr Haley said: “We think our proposals are the way we should be doing it and the way we should spend our money with the limited income we have got over the next years.”
The council proposes to spend about £3m from its New Homes Bonus pot – with money split between several projects, including community-focused ones. The exact total proposed could vary depending on the developing plans for projects.
Mid Suffolk is set to receive between £8.6-£9.9m in New Homes Bonus money between 2015-19. The council has forecast that amount could rise to almost £13m if a greater number of houses are built, some 20% a year over what is has constructed in the past.
Mr Stringer added: “Overall, the need now is to bring forward projects which circulate council reserves into the local economy, often yielding a payback through additional New Homes Bonus or business rates, as well as benefits to the local community.”
Other proposals include an extra £200,000 for communities, investment in new council planning staff and its economic regeneration team.
A full council meeting will be held to discuss the budget on February 27 at 5.30pm.