The Leader's Message
Leader's Message April 2014
I am delighted that Ribble Valley Borough Council has frozen its council tax for the fifth year running.
At £140.69 on a Band D property, Ribble Valley's share of the council tax will remain the lowest in Lancashire and one of the lowest in the UK.
As national economic pressures continue to erode Government funding, which is an integral part of our income stream, the budget process has become a demanding and detailed exercise.
Over the last five years, while Ribble Valley's share of the council tax has remained frozen, the council's funding from Government has decreased by over £1.5million.
Despite this, careful cost control and sound financial planning, along with planned and prudent use of reserves and new income streams, has enabled the council to maintain core services at satisfaction levels averaging ovr 75 per cent, one of the highest in the North West.
This is an excellent achievement and I am grateful to councillors and officers, whose loyalty and commitment has been the cornerstone of our success.
We should not, however, underestimate the challenges ahead. We know that our grant in 2015/16 will decrease even further and we are starting budget preparations immediately to deal with this.
National planning policy continues to make an unprecedented demand on our efforts and we are severely constrained by policy requirements. The examination in public of our Core Strategy has now closed and the Planning Inspectorate has requested we undertake some further work "in a spirit of assistance."
I should make it clear that the strategy has not been rejected and upon completion of the additional work we fully anticipate its adoption within months. This remains a key objective and will afford us the single most important tool in controlling the unwanted and excessive flow of housing applications.
Finance and planning are key issues for us, and regrettably sometimes overshadow the council's ongoing excellent work in many other areas.
The council was recently praised by the Government for its refuse collection service. The Government's guidance on weekly refuse collections, or "bin bible," cites Ribble Valley as an example of best practice.
The document praises Ribble Valley Borough Council for operating a weekly refuse collection service in one of the largest rural boroughs in the country, while maintaining a 90 per cent customer satisfaction rate.
Our residents tell us that they value and appreciate weekly collections of non-recyclable waste and we are delighted that the Government has recognised our achievements.
Food hygiene in Ribble Valley is also among the best in the country according to a national investigation.
A Which? report has placed Ribble Valley Borough Council seventh in the country for food hygiene enforcement.