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Long-term projects and resilience main focus as Council budget announced

Outside the Guildhall in Gainsborough

West Lindsey District Council remains committed to keeping and strengthening West Lindsey as a place where communities can thrive and reach their potential, following the approval of a strong and well-planned financial budget.

At a virtual Full Council meeting last night (01/03/21), Councillors approved a budget of £13,279,100 for the 2021/22 financial year, and acknowledged the good financial position the council is in despite the uncertainty in the current climate surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and future Government funding.

Councillors also approved a Council Tax rise of £5 – or 10p a week – for the 2021/22 financial year, to maximise every opportunity to help with the current uncertainty and now expected longer term recovery of the Council’s income streams. This is a rise of 2.3%.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Owen Bierley, was presenting his first budget to the Council since being appointed in November, and remains determined to follow-through on all the Council’s commitments.

He said: “As well as continuing to deliver award-winning services, the Council remains committed to its priorities of investing in taking long-term action to help the Environment and Climate Change, as well as strengthening Culture, Leisure, Health and Wellbeing facilities within the area – and all this will be assisted by the Government’s one-year financial settlement which has allowed us to set aside £1m to do so.

“On top of this, we are resolutely focused on investing through the District and our Capital Investment Programme now totals £21m. Through this we will continue to see investment in Gainsborough, Market Rasen, Caistor, Nettleham, Hemswell and at our new Central Depot at Glentham – a facility which will give our operational waste teams much needed facilities which are both environmentally sustainable and future proofed. Residents can continue to expect award-winning projects continue around the District, such as the Crematorium at Lea Park, which has now been operational for over a year.

“Planning around an uncertain time has meant we have had to think intelligently, and take appropriate measures to protect us from all eventualities. Whilst there remains uncertainty around future funding for local government, we are well placed to mitigate the impact through setting aside £1m, which will provide resources over the medium term in balancing the budget, should it be required.

“This is also meant we have had to raise the Council Tax level to the Government referendum limit. This is a difficult time for everyone in our community, and we understand this completely. By raising the amount to an extra 10p a week – we have taken appropriate action to maximise our income streams in the face of uncertainty which is a responsible measure we would be expected to take as a local and responsible authority group.”

A rise in the Council Tax bills of £5, means that households in the Band D category will see a rise from £217.74 to £222.74 annually. Council Tax bills help with services from organisations such as Lincolnshire County Council, West Lindsey District Council, Town and Parish Councils in some areas, and local policing.

Chief Executive of West Lindsey District Council Ian Knowles, acknowledged that strong financial planning had been more important than ever in the current climate.

He said: “Despite the uncertainty and the challenges of the past year, we have been able to deliver a strong financial plan; one that remains committed to our priorities but is also smart in the event of any and all eventualities.

“Nobody could have predicted the past year and how it would have affected all of us – and that is why I am so proud of the way this Council has reacted, and continued to deliver award-winning services to its communities. Sound financial management has been and will remain key to our resilience and we will continue wholeheartedly to be responsible and follow this mantra.”

The budget was guided by the Executive Business Plan and the Medium-Term Financial Plan 2021/22 – 2025-26, and was fully scrutinised by the Corporate Police and Resources Committee before being approved by Council.

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