Welcome to my first blog as leader of Charnwood Borough Council.
I feel it’s important to talk, and listen, to residents and therefore I’m planning to blog each month to keep you posted about what’s going on at the Council.
It’s entirely non-political and hopefully of interest (well I’ll try!)
I have always been proud of the support given by the borough council to community groups. Each year the Council invests around £400,000 in the borough’s voluntary and community sector in the borough. And I use the word invest specifically as it is an investment.
We cannot do everything and that’s why the Council needs to work with strategic partners like Citizens Advice, Clockwise, The Bridge and others to support residents.
We also then need to harness the power of the community and we do this by funding a wide range of individual projects and groups each year.
For example, Cabinet recently approved £21,000 in grants to support community allotments, wellbeing activities and an upcycling project that also allows vulnerable people learn new skills.
The Council is now looking to strengthen this work.
A proposal will soon be discussed to create a Member Grant Scheme which would see each member allocated £1,000 to award to projects in their wards.
The aim is to spread the funding we do have available to every corner of the borough, utilising members’ own community knowledge.
I recently met the Right Hon Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to discuss the planning system.
The meeting came as the government announced plans to overhaul planning rules to encourage house building and I used the opportunity to clarify Charnwood’s position.
As one of the largest boroughs in the country (the r is important there), Charnwood’s growth is quite significant.
The point I made to Mr Javid was that Charnwood has planning permissions in place to meet our housing need for 15 years or so. What we cannot do is force developers to build homes at the rate we would perhaps all like.
He was sympathetic to our concerns and assured me more would be done to help unlock sites.
However, this is only one element.
We are also talking to neighbouring authorities about how we can work together to increase affordable housing. Forming a company and building homes ourselves is an option.
Finally, the charge for our garden waste service is going up to £40 in May following a reduction in funding from the county council. We don’t want to put up charges but we do want to protect frontline services and make the most of every single pound in our very tight budget.
We are already prepared to use up to £1.5 million of our reserves in the next financial year so we need to make tough decisions and we continue to find efficiencies within the council, to make sure that any increases we make to charges are as small as possible.
What I would say is that for £40, the service is still excellent value for money, cheaper than some other authorities and takes a lot of hassle out of gardening.
All we need now is some brighter weather so we can spend more time outside.
Cllr Jonathan Morgan, Leader of Charnwood Borough Council
Last updated: Tue 31st July, 2018 @ 09:30