Last week I detailed how Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council is keeping Council Tax bills down while protecting frontline services from cuts, writes Ipswich Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere.
Because of our sound management of the council’s finances, despite £8m a year cuts from the Government we can not only do this but also make some targeted improvements to services as well.
Last year we ran a trial free young person’s iCard scheme over the summer holidays after residents expressed concerns about potential anti-social behaviour over this period. The scheme was very successful with over 24,000 visits to council sports facilities by youngsters and lower than usual reports of anti-social behaviour. Our budget this year allocates funding to make a free young person’s summer iCard permanent.
We are making good on our promise to the residents of the Racecourse estate following the death of Tavis Spencer-Aitkens that we would make long term funding available for projects that will make the area safer, especially for young people. Our budget makes permanent a £50,000 a year fund for the area along with similar funding for at least two other areas.
Many councils are passing on the cuts they have received from the Government to community and voluntary groups. Conservative-run Suffolk County Council is planning to cut the grant it gives to Suffolk’s Citizens’ Advice Bureaux completely over two years. In Ipswich we are not only protecting our grants budget, but increasing it so it maintains its value in real terms.
We are continuing to invest to reduce homelessness. The Council’s new homeless families’ unit, which will provide temporary accommodation for up to 40 households, is due to open in late Spring. We will complete 17 new council houses on Cauldwell Hall Road and start on 60 new houses on the former Tooks bakery site.
We are also investing in Ipswich’s heritage. Our budget confirms the Council’s increased contribution which secured Heritage Lottery Funding to restore Broomhill Pool and Stage One funding to design a major revamp of Ipswich Museum.
We will, of course, keep brown bins free of charge unlike every Conservative-run council in Suffolk.
You certainly pay less with Labour. But you also get more for your money too.