Parking, littering, bins: how Herefordshire plans to balance its books
The squeeze will be felt across Herefordshire's public services as the county council plans to make savings of more than £14 million.
This is in order to produce a balanced budget for the financial year ahead, as it has to by law.
There will be a saving of £80,000 from not collecting household bin collections on bank holidays, which will “slip a day” instead, Herefordshire Council's draft budget says. And there will be higher charges for commercial and bulky waste collection.
The council also aims to raise £50,000 from a trial scheme of issuing fixed penalty notices for littering.
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Expanding the areas in Hereford that charge for on-street parking is due to raise £13,000. The council will publish its plans for raise such charges on the edge of the city centre shortly.
It appears from the plans that a 10p per hour increase in existing council car parking charges will raise a further £400,000, but only from next year.
There will also be a “phased increase” in residents’ parking permit fees, expected to generate a further £30,000 in the year from April.
Measures to “maximise the effectiveness” of parking fines is forecast to bring in a further £50,000, while new roadside cameras to detect moving traffic offences, at as-yet unspecified locations across Herefordshire, are to bring in a further £25,000.
There will be an effort to “maximise income sources” at Hereford’s council-owned enterprise zone in Rotherwas.
There will also be “inflationary” rises in the various fees and charges the council makes, and it will “review” the services it currently does not charge for. The charges the council makes for planning work will also change from April.
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However, the biggest savings are to come from within community wellbeing, the department which includes adult social care and which consumes over a third of the council budget. Here, £6 million is to be saved through employing permanent rather than agency staff, and from more efficient working practices.
The children and young people department, the council’s second costliest, is to make a further £4.5 million in savings by reducing the number of children coming into care, recruiting more foster carers, and “tight control of high-cost placements”. Here too the aim is to replace agency staff with more permanent appointments.
A report by a Government commissioner on the department’s fitness to continue under council control is due to be published any day.
The council also hopes to save £300,000 in the year ahead by vacating offices it currently uses which are expensive to maintain or energy-inefficient. It will save a further £100,000 by publishing its thrice-yearly Herefordshire Now magazine online only. And £20,000 will be saved by cutting staff mobile phone use.
The council also intends to raise council tax by the maximum 5 per cent from April, so increasing the total it gets from this from £120 million to £127 million. Business rates of over £40 million and various Government grants make up the forecast income of £193 million.
But all these budget measures must be approved by a full meeting of all county councillors on February 10.
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