At Havering’s full council meeting tonight members will vote on the new proposed budget.
The key points in this budget are:
No Library closures and longer opening hours.
More health workers for the borough.
Further investment in the borough’s parks.
More homes for local people.
Significant investment in high streets.
Investing £13 million for additional council homes.
Havering Council Leader Councillor Damian White said: “There are very few council’s out there that can show such a vast improvement. This budget clearly shows just how much the council is doing to improve the lives of everyone living in this borough. We are making dramatic improvements against harsh backgrounds.”
The Leader also praised the way the council had been able to make sure vital front line services have not been effected.
“The good news is that austerity has ended and we will receive a ‘Boris Bounce’ of some additional budget this year.
“However, it will not reverse the years of savings we have had to make in the past and we still need to deliver £14 million in savings to close the budget gap. This means that once again we have had to raise council tax, continue transforming how the council works and find efficiency savings. In this we have no choice.”
Councillor White also spoke about how he was heavily criticised by the opposition when he introduced his ‘double diamond review’ process and stated that the positive results that have now been achieved by Havering Council show that ‘the proof is in the pudding’.
“One of the greatest success stories is that we have been able to do more with a lot less and are showing to the borough’s residents a real commitment to better spending. Without a savings system, we would have seen libraries close and other vital frontline services affected.”
The regeneration programme will also see estates being improved and the increase in affordable homes, in particular the number of family size homes.
Councillor White continued: “We haven’t built just one-bedroom units, if we wanted to be ruthless we would have done that. But instead, we have built family size affordable homes.”
The Council Leader was also asked about the opposition party’s budget where the Romford Light Switch on would be cut altogether.
“The light switch on’s attract thousands of residents each year, local businesses benefit hugely from these events. The cutting of events like this would impoverish our high streets and the community.“
The budget also shows an increase by 2% of councillor’s allowances. The leader responded by saying: “This is the first pay increase councillors have had since 2008. This just puts us in line with other London boroughs.
“I have the smallest cabinet than any other borough. Councillors here are putting in full-time hours and balancing their jobs as well. My earnings are nowhere near the same as those of other council leaders in London boroughs.”
The council still needs to balance the budget and has pressures of £65 million over the next four years.
Most of these pressures are offset by planned savings, an additional social care grant of £3.7 million and council tax with this year seeing a proposed rise of 3.95%.