Report of Stroud District Matters to North Nibley
Annual Parish Assembly, 2 April 2012
District Councillor Paul Smith
During the past civic year I have served on three Stroud District Council (SDC) Committees, the Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Audit Committee, and the Maintenance Focus Group. In addition I was re-elected by Council as their representative on the Stroud District Road Safety Liaison Group for which I am Vice-Chair.
Cllr June Cordwell continues as Vice Chair of SDC’s Housing Management Forum while Cllr Alan O’Connor sits on the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Much of the year has been spent regarding the further cuts in central funding. The final figure for the government support grant in 2011/12 was a reduction from £6.546m to £5485m which amounted to a cut of 16.21% and a further cut to £4.669m for 2012/13 which amounted to a cut of 14.88%. This means over the last two years our grant from central government has been cut by 28.67% one of the largest cuts in England.
The Housing Revenue Account subsidy system is the current system for managing the financing of council housing. Under this system major financial decisions about council house management are made by central govt. and there is comparatively little control in the hands of councils. This makes it difficult for councils to plan for the long term.
The government has committed to replacing the current system with a new arrangement which will enable councils to keep all the money they receive in rents and use it to maintain their homes.
Under the current system- the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy, the Govt. calculates the spending needs of each council and compares it with their rental income. If a councils spending needs falls short of its spending needs, the govt. provides subsidy to make up the shortfall. If a council’s rental income exceeds its spending needs, the excess is fed back into the subsidy system to help provide for those councils requiring subsidy. If money is left over, it is returned to Govt. this is increasingly the case as costs have been assumed to be fixed and rental income assumed to increase above inflation each year.
The current system is complex and does not deliver sufficient funding for councils to manage and maintain their homes to a good standard. The Govt. is changing the law to deliver this change from April 2012. The new Localism Bill contains provisions that will bring in the new self-financing system.
Councils will be given a limit to how much they can borrow. SDC which is debt free will be able to borrow £92 million. (This is virtually a re-mortgaging the housing stock). The payback will be over 20/25 years.
One of the largest pieces of work being carried out by the Council at the moment is the Core Strategy or new local plan to enable some 9350 houses to be built in the district between 2006 and 2026. A number of public meetings and consultations have already been carried out which has resulted in a concentrated development strategy. To obtain the above figure over that already built or given planning permission a residual housing need for about 3,200 dwellings is required situated as follows:
Stroud Valleys 300 – 800 homes, with up to 1600 jobs.
North east of Cam 200 – 500 homes, with up to 1500 jobs.
West of Stonehouse 1000 – 1500 homes, with up to 3000 jobs.
Hunts Grove 500 – 750 homes.
Aston Downs 100 – 200 homes, with intensification of employment.
Sharpness 200 – 250 homes, with intensification of employment.
In addition to the above other Towns and Parishes who have suggested that they wish to take further housing will be asked to identify sites and numbers.
Further public consultations will now be carried out during 6th February 2012 to 19 March 2012 with a view of the Core Strategy being submitted to the Secretary of State in September 2012 with final adoption in the spring/summer of 2013.
SDC have carried out a review of all the car parks under their management with regards to introducing parking fees in all the free car parks. The result was not to bring parking fees in but to review the situation in 12 to 18 months. However a further public consultation is being carried out regarding the Chipping car park being made all 3 hour short term with a limited number of long stay parking provided by permits at £50 per year. The consultation is due to end on the 30 March with those interested in responding contacting SDC either by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 01453 754415.
Finally, I would like to thank my fellow Ward Councillor’s Cllr June Cordwell and Cllr Alan O’ Connor for the support we give each other and further I would like to say that it is an honour to serve the residents of North Nibley and wish to thank you for your support and hospitality during the past year.