Continued investment in local people’s priority areas – street cleaning, refuse and recycling collection and activities for young people - form the cornerstone of Thanet District Council’s budget for the next year.
The budget was last night (Thursday 22 February) agreed at a meeting of full Council, when an increase in Council Tax bills of 4.44% was agreed, meaning most households will see a weekly increase in Thanet District Council’s share of the bill of less than 14p a week.
Council Leader Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel told Council that this budget built on the work of previous years, which had seen resources switched into those areas that local people had identified as their priorities. “The first and most consistent demand from our residents is to keep the streets and roadways clean, and to provide an effective refuse collection service. This Council took the brave decision to take the service back in-house and invested £1.45 million in 2006/07, with further investment in to come over the next year in refuse vehicles and wheelie bins. The arrangements that we now have in place are fit for purpose and get better each week. They have cost us money, but that has been well spent and will be of long-term benefit to Thanet residents and this investment is already paying dividends in the eyes of our residents. Both street cleansing and refuse collection show an increase in resident satisfaction of 16% and 6% respectively.”
Other priority areas include activities for young people and the £40,000 allocated last year for arts and sports activities for young people remains in this year’s budget.
However, there was also a warning that local councils across the country are likely to face a continuing funding gap over the next three years, with tough grant settlements likely from central government. These will probably not cover projected inflation, so in real terms, councils are likely to see a cut in their funding.
Cllr. Ezekiel told the meeting: “The year-on-year Budget gap that this Council has faced in recent years looks set to continue over the next few years, so we are seeking to put steps in place to close this gap and balance the Budget. This will only be achieved if managers, staff and Members work together. Even with greater efficiency and reducing costs, Members will have to accept that the Council probably won’t be able to do everything that we currently do, so some tough choices will be needed about what we don’t do.”