Environment focus in proposed Rugby Borough Council budget
The Rugby Borough Council budget for 2019-20 will see a number of measures aimed at reducing the environmental impact of council services.
It will support the town centre and provide intensive support for homeless residents, if proposals are approved by councillors at a meeting to be held on 26 February.
Proposals announced by Cllr Michael Stokes, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, on Wednesday (6 February 2019), include changes to waste collection rounds that will reduce the environmental impact of the bin lorry fleet, and a commitment to end the use of single-use plastics.
If approved, the borough council will save £125,000 per year by introducing a policy of collecting waste from the kerbside only, removing the need for narrow waste collection vehicles that can navigate narrow alleyways and farm tracks, reducing mileage, increasing fuel efficiency, and reducing damage to off-road access tracks, which are often privately owned.
To support the town centre, £60,000 collected from businesses based in out of town retail parks during 2019-20 will fund free weekend and evening parking in council-run car parks. Parking will be free all day on Saturdays and Sundays and from 6pm to 6am on weekdays, allowing residents to support town centre shops and restaurants without paying for parking.
£25,000 will support the environment locally and include schemes such as; the Severn Trent refill scheme promoting the reuse of water bottles, fund the installation of Rugby town centre’s first electric vehicle charging points and fund a commitment that the borough council will stop purchasing any further single use plastics from 1 April 2019.
Furthermore, £5,000 will be donated to the garden project being promoted by St Andrew’s Church, with an additional £20,000 match funding available to be unlocked by public donations.
In addition, £40,000 will fund an extra housing officer to provide intensive support to help residents out of homelessness, extending a pilot project that has already had some success moving residents from street homelessness to permanent accommodation.
A maximum of £80,000 will be used to improve disability access to the main democratic chamber of the town hall, including improved audio visual equipment, which will help more residents of the borough access the democratic process. This will be funded from an underspend in the 2018-19 budget.
To support the overall budget, councillors will be asked to approve an increase of 2.99% in the amount of council tax collected by Rugby Borough Council, equating to an increase of £4.19 per year for an average Band D property. This compares to an increase of 5% or £65 per year proposed by Warwickshire County Council, and an increase of 12% or £24 per year proposed by Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner. Rugby Borough Council keeps less than ten pence in every pound of council tax collected, with Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Police, Parish Council and town area precepts making up the rest.
Cllr Michael Stokes, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said:
While other local authorities are having to make substantial cuts to front-line services, prudent financial management over many years has meant that we have been able to continue to fund the services our residents value.
“While any increase in council tax will be unwelcome, our proposed increase of just over ten pence per week for a typical Band D property will allow us to continue to support our most vulnerable residents.
“Changes to our shopping habits continue to have an impact on high streets across the country, so our commitment to fund free parking on evenings and weekends will give businesses based in the town centre their best chance to thrive.
“The garden project aiming to open up an underused town centre space led by St Andrew’s Church will get a welcome kick-start, with further funding available to match public donations.
“And, while we have had some success in helping street homeless residents into permanent accommodation, there is a need for more of this intensive support which we are committed to provide.”
Councillors will set the Rugby Borough Council 2019-20 budget at their meeting to be held on 26 February. More information, including the full budget proposals, will be published at www.rugby.gov.uk/budget one week before the meeting.