The Leader's Message
Leader's Message May 2013
Welcome to my first message as leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council.
Although only a small rural authority, Ribble Valley Borough Council has an excellent record of success that has been recognised, not only in our region, but also nationally.
The borough enjoys a level of customer satisfaction that is the envy of neighbouring authorities, as well as healthy reserves and one of the lowest council tax rates in the country. This has been achieved despite a 25 per cent cut in Government funding that has been absorbed with virtually no loss of jobs.
It is important to acknowledge success, but any sense of complacency would be misplaced. Further cuts of up to 10 per cent may lie ahead and there are siren voices within and without Government questioning the three-tier local government system, without which authorities such as Ribble Valley Borough Council would cease to exist.
As I take the baton of leadership from Councillor Michael Ranson, I do so in the full knowledge of the challenges that lie ahead and have identified two key actions for the coming year:
Firstly, sound finance. This has been the cornerstone of our success in recent years and we must maintain our vigilance by structuring a balanced and sustainable budget for the next financial year by controlling costs and maximising income and efficiency to preserve the quality and scope of council services.
Secondly, planning. We must continue our work to deliver a robust and defensible Core Strategy that is relevant to the needs of the borough and acknowledges the need for sustainable development, while protecting the unique rural environment of Ribble Valley that is so highly valued by our residents.
We have many other objectives in relation to the provision of services and our wider community responsibilities. A great deal of work lies ahead in relation to these objectives, work that will only be made possible by financial security, so we must guard against being diverted from this key activity.
Ribble Valley Borough Council has elected members, in the ruling group and in opposition, who draw upon many diverse talents, recognise the importance of intelligent and courteous debate, and are united in a desire to ensure a secure and prosperous future for the borough.
We also have a highly professional and committed senior management team, and most importantly a loyal and dedicated workforce, whose commitment is the bedrock of the authority's success.
I look forward to the year ahead in which we move forwards to achieve our objectives, working together in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.
Stuart Hirst, Leader
Ribble Valley Borough Council