Growing up in the real world I’m often left shocked at the contrast to how life works at South Lakeland District Council. Don’t get me wrong we have some very talented people working there, but they all too often have their wings clipped.
These are my proposals to make the Council greener, leaner and more willing to boost business. If fully implemented:
We will help first time home buyers, whilst boosting investment return.
We are going to actually fine people for leaving dog mess, turning enforcement from costing you and I, to raising revenue to spend on services.
We will invest in car parks to expand capacity, staving off future grabs for cash in fee rises.
We will get more people enjoying our highstreets with innovative and low cost programmes such as free WiFi, evening summer markets and late night shopping.
We will take a positive step in making the Council offices greener and allow others to take the same step with their business or home.
This isn’t rocket science. These ideas aren’t unachievable. They are simple, cost effective ways to make the Council better for its residents and visitors.
Read my full proposals below:
Austerity has been hard on local Authorities. Despite difficulties, opportunities for smarter and more cost effective ways of delivering services have come forward and this Council has managed to balance its books whilst taking advantage of
Government Council Tax Freeze Grants to keep Council Tax for the typical resident unmoved. As the belt continues to be tightened this Council must continue to look for new and innovative ways to deliver our promise of being the “best place to live, work and explore”.
The Shadow Cabinet is committed to make this Council greener, leaner and more willing to boost business in South Lakeland. Historically the Shadow Cabinet has taken opportunity at this time to highlight schemes and programmes that it feels will better use the Council’s present resources and create new resources to benefit our rate payers and visitors.
Whilst recognising the potential long term implications of not increasing the council tax base for 2012/13 the Conservative Group strongly supports a nil percentage increase in council tax this year.
Capital Investment in the Car Parks
It is proposed that the car parks where demand regularly exceeds supply are expanded and that this project is put through the Capital Prioritisation process and scored alongside the other projects. It is estimated that for a capital investment of £3.5m additional annual revenue of £261k could be generated. This would reflect a circa 13 year pay-back period. It is proposed that a
proportion of the additional income would be used to reduce the need to increase future parking charges. A considered exploration of this proposal would be required.
Housing – Local Authority Mortgage Scheme (LAMS)
The Conservative Group support the exploration of the LAM Scheme. With Council investment revenue low and house price affordability low a £1m LAMS scheme would put this Council at the forefront of rising trends. Using strict requirements this Council could “bridge the gap” allowing some first time buyers to access up to 95% mortgages. The Council would receive either a premium per agreed mortgage or a favourable interest rate on any cash held by lenders. This should cover the cost of any defaults and so the scheme should be cost neutral in revenue terms. It is proposed that the investment of the £1m with the lender would transfer from the current Council investments held elsewhere.
South Lakeland News
We believe South Lakeland News serves no purpose for either the Council or the electorate and that the production should cease. This would save the council in the region of £24k per annum.
Enforcement of Dog Control Orders
It is proposed that a 12 month trial is undertaken of outsourcing Dog Control Orders and litter enforcement, with a view to generating revenue via a profit sharing arrangement between the Council and the supplier. Part of the revenue generated would be offset against costs to provide greater information on good dog ownership to our visitors and residents, as well as advertising of repeat offenders in the local press. The initial costs could be met from the £24k savings identified above.
It is suggested that the Asset Review Programme involves Members in leading the review to dispose, invest or retain the assets the Council owns as it looks to consider its property rationalisation.
Improved Economic Development – Free WiFi to increase high street business
The Group believe that this should be explored as it could be provided via partners for nil cost and will help encourage more people onto the high street.
Improved Economic Development – Late night shopping
We would wish to see the Council working with the business sector to initiate a late night shopping evening on one or more of our shopping high streets as a trial over a summer period. This may be coupled with an evening summer market which could generate resources to offset any costs associated in running car parks later free of charge.
Improved Economic Development – Christmas free parking
Instead of us telling communities they will get four days of free Sunday parking at Christmas time we would like to see, within the constraints of the existing budget, the Town or Parish Council choose their four days free parking within the year. Not only does this engage our communities in having a say, but could mean boosts to local business as the free parking days are days the businesses are open.
Improved Economic Development – Business Development Forum
We would wish consideration be given to converting the business development forum into a business task force, re-aligning its purpose and direction to deliver results and engage with the business community.
Environment – water sourced heat pump scheme
We support the idea of exploring the possibility of introducing water sourced heat pump schemes being used in Windermere.
Environment – biomass boiler
We request that the work carried out to assess the provision of biomass fuel at South Lakeland House be reviewed in the light of the developments in technology with a view to making revenue savings and providing greener energy.