Huntingdonshire District Council’s (HDC) 2021/2022 budget was presented at a meeting of the full Council on Wednesday 24 February and approved for the forthcoming financial year.
At the heart of the new financial plan is how the council will respond to the increased demand on council services as a result of the pandemic, and delivering an ambitious programme of town centre improvements across our market towns as well as supporting businesses and residents in the medium to long term recovery from COVID-19.
- approved revenue budget of £20.7m million to spend on services
- Council Tax frozen with no increase at all in 2021/22. This means the average Band D charge will remain at £145.86 per year.
The budget is guided by the principles that key services are retained and invested in, economic development of the district to boost jobs and prosperity and the need to accommodate COVID-related growth and revenue pressure. By careful and deliberate financial management over a number of years, HDC has developed a strong and sustainable financial position. Our continued theme of self-reliance has allowed for an ambitious budget that provides investment in key projects and frontline services despite the ongoing financial pressures of the pandemic and costs associated with response and recovery.
Councillor Jonathan Gray, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: "This is an extraordinary budget at an extraordinary time, and while it has been produced in a time of uncertainty, we are still able to commit to investment in vital residents’ services. We remain committed to prioritising the economic development of Huntingdonshire to boost jobs and prosperity for our residents. Our capital picture is dominated by town centre improvements, recognising that we must support our market towns into a post-pandemic world, with new ways of operating in order to empower residents and businesses to thrive and succeed in the 21st century.
"Despite continued challenges the coronavirus pandemic has thrown our way, our strong reserves position has enabled us to successfully deliver much-needed support to residents and businesses, but also to produce a balanced budget that provides investment and growth in the immediate future."
Councillor Ryan Fuller, Executive Leader of the Council, added: "The pandemic has presented new challenges that no one could have predicted, but this budget ensures key council services are retained and invested in, despite the ongoing financial pressures. . We are also freezing council tax for the forthcoming year, in line with my group’s manifesto commitment, and at a time when many residents will be looking to the District Council to do what we can to support them in this challenging economic climate.
"Furthermore, this budget represents a significant investment in regeneration and infrastructure across Huntingdonshire, supports our communities, protects the interests of local taxpayers and maintains the excellent services that the people of Huntingdonshire rely upon us to continue to provide, as we have done throughout the pandemic. It includes over £12 million of investment in St Neots, our largest market town, and lays the foundations for similar investment in Huntingdon, Ramsey and St Ives over the next few years. I am proud to deliver a budget that not only invests in our services but also in supporting our residents and communities as our district recovers from the pandemic."
The council is committing tens of millions of pounds to the regeneration of our market towns as part of a phased approach across the district. This investment will regenerate and drive the redevelopment of retail and leisure in our town centres as well as providing the infrastructure and improvements to fully support our towns to be prosperous community centres that drive economic growth and make our district an exceptional place to live, work and invest.
We are constantly striving to improve how our services are delivered for the benefit of our residents. We recognise the impact that on-street parking can have on our communities, businesses, and residents. It’s for this reason that we have agreed to progress civil parking enforcement in Huntingdonshire and have made provision within the budget to deliver this new service in response to requests from residents for better on-street parking enforcement.
We are also committed to finding alternative and sustainable solutions to traditional problems. As part of the off-street car parking strategy, electric vehicle charging points are going to be installed in both short and long stay car parks run by the council in a phased rollout this year.
Huntingdonshire is home to a great number of wonderful parks and open spaces that have proudly been recognised, once again, with Green Flag status. This year we are piloting parklets, which are small community green spaces, in Huntingdon, St Ives and Ramsey to support active travel and town centre pride. This year, we have also won a national ‘Love Parks’ award for a campaign that helped to share residents’ love for their local parks and are investing in the delivery of a brand new park on the old golf course in St Ives.
We have also earmarked millions of pounds of Community Infrastructure Levy receipts from developers for community projects, road and cycleway infrastructure, schools, health services, environmental improvements and upgraded leisure facilities.