Stevenage Borough Council reveal £3m cuts

Stevenage Borough Council offices

Stevenage Borough Council offices - Credit: Archant

A series of significant cuts to services will be made by Stevenage Borough Council as it looks to save £3 million over the next three years.

Stevenage Arts Guild

The council has provided financial support to the Stevenage Arts Guild. This has been used for minor building repairs at the arts centre at Roaring Meg and to finance projects and events for guild members. This proposal will save the council about £6,000 a year. The saving would put more onus on Stevenage Arts Guild to carry out fundraising.

Canyon Play Association

The council has grant-funded the Canyon Play Association for more than 20 years. The council is proposing to stop its funding to the Canyon Play Association, which will realise a saving of more than £9,000 a year. As a co-operative council we want to encourage more communities and groups to be involved in how local services are run. We will seek to identify local groups and users to take over the running of the Canyon Play Association. We will continue to run three play centres across the town.


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Talented Young People grant

We have to reduce the grant funding we have given to various community members. We are considering ending our Talented Young People Grant Scheme, which gives financial awards to youngsters showing prowess in their chosen field in the arts, sport or academia. Stopping the grant would save the council £10,000.

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Introduction of parking charges at Fairlands Valley showground during Stevenage FC home games

We have to look for ways of either saving money or increasing our income from other sources. In a recent consultation residents told us they would prefer us to increase fees and charges than cut services. One of the areas we can generate income is through car parking charges. Fairlands Valley showground is the recommended parking area for football supporters attending matches at Broadhall Way. Currently parking is free. We propose introducing a charge when Stevenage FC play at home. We believe this would generate around £15,000.

Out of hours noise nuisance standby

A reduction in the funding we receive from the Government means we are forced to stop some of our non-essential services. We are proposing to end the out-of-hours service our environmental health officers have provided in response to noise nuisance complaints. This will save the council £12,000. Over the past year, we have received an average of 2.7 calls a week. Frequently, noise nuisance constitutes anti-social behaviour. Our anti-social behaviour team will continue to work co-operatively with our partners in order to address anti-social behaviour.

Resources

We have to consider reductions across all our budgets, including salary expenditure. This unfortunately means a reduction in posts. Compulsory redundancies are inevitable and, in some areas, will have a consequential effect on services. Final numbers of redundancies will be determined as proposals are refined, consulted and confirmed. The council will seek to redeploy as many staff as possible into any vacancies which arise.

Staff redundancies in Housing Revenue Account

Since the housing service was integrated into the council in December 2011, we have continued to make improvements to the way we work to prioritise related spending to provide quality housing services. We are seeking to make a number of efficiency savings, some of which will mean a reduction in posts within the housing service. The council will seek to redeploy as many staff as possible into any vacancies which arise. Given the reductions in council funding, some compulsory redundancies will be inevitable.

Senior management pay award

Bearing in mind the level of savings needed across the organisation, senior managers at Stevenage Borough Council have opted to forego an increase in their salaries for 2014/15. This will save the organisation more than £7,000.

Cease first class post

We are forced to make some stringent cost savings. One of these is to stop sending mail by first class post. It will enable us to save £8,000.

Nappy collection service

The council operates a free weekly collection service for families who use disposable nappies. This involves providing purple bin bags, which are filled with the used nappies, and then put out for collection each week. Our refuse team collect the bags and they are taken to landfill for disposal. Around 800 households in Stevenage use this. We are the only council in Herts providing a free weekly nappy collection, and one of only three Herts councils collecting nappies separately to other household waste. Ending this would save £3,330. We will work with parenting and community groups to explore alternative solutions.

Grass cutting

We are forced to reduce some of our services. Currently, we cut grass on verges and open spaces nine times each year. We are proposing to reduce this to six times a year to save more than £30,000. This could (depending on the weather) affect the appearance of the town and some open spaces. Parks will not be affected.

Town Centre Management Company

The Stevenage Town Centre Management Company is a private company, funded by Stevenage Borough Council and local businesses, which works to improve Stevenage town centre. A reduction in the funding we receive from the Government means we have to reduce the support we provide to external organisations, including the Town Centre Management Company. We are proposing to reduce our grant by £10,000. This will mean the Town Centre Management Company may have to find alternative sources of income in order to continue to undertake its business.

SoStevenage

A reduction in the funding we receive from the Government means we are forced to make some stringent cost savings. We propose to cut £4,300 of the money we currently use to support events undertaken by the SoStevenage partnership. In the past these events have aimed to help address issues including domestic abuse and child poverty. If the budget is reduced, the SoStevenage partnership would need to change the way it works with partners but we will continue to work co-operatively to address local priorities.

Local Community Budget

Currently each Stevenage councillor has a budget they can allocate to support local community and voluntary organisations, events and projects. A reduction in the funding we receive from the Government means we have to reduce the funding we have available to allocate to local projects and organisations. We are proposing to reduce each councillor’s budget to £2,000 per year. This would save £52,000.

Community Grant funding

It is increasingly difficult for us to give financial support to local voluntary and community groups and community centres. We want to continue to support Stevenage Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) so we are proposing to reduce support to other groups, and to look at how we can manage community centres more efficiently. This will save £35,300 this year.

Hyde Out Community Centre

The Hyde Out in Shephall is the only community centre managed and subsidised by the council and we are proposing to bring it in line with the other centres. We could save £18,000 if we no longer manage the Hyde Out. We want to encourage more communities and groups to be involved in local services and one of the ways we can do this is by seeking to encourage community groups to take over the running of community assets and services, like the Hyde Out.

Introduction of parking charges on public highway near Lister Hospital

One of the areas where we can generate income is through car parking charges. Currently a number of drivers park on roads close to Lister Hospital, including Coreys Mill Lane, where there are no parking restrictions. We propose to introduce pay and display parking in these areas. We believe this would generate more than £70,000.

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