WE’RE CALLING FOR A FAIR SHARE FOR DERBYSHIRE

It’s no secret that year on year councils up and down the country are getting less money from Government to spend on vital services people rely on.

This is a problem that affects us all.

But Derbyshire is facing an additional problem. It doesn’t get its fair share of funding compared to other councils because of the way the Government calculates who gets what.

In fact, Derbyshire is in the bottom ten worst-funded councils and ranks 140 out of 150 upper-tier English local authorities – including county councils, city councils and London boroughs – in terms of the money we have to spend per resident.

Islington Council has £952 to spend on every resident – in Derbyshire it’s just £718 per resident. And if Derbyshire was funded at the same level as Kensington and Chelsea we’d be better off by £238 million – that’s an extra £300 to spend on every resident for things like libraries, school improvement and services for people who are more vulnerable, including senior citizens and people with disabilities.

I believe the current system of council funding is biased towards London boroughs, cities and the south of England and is fundamentally unfair to Derbyshire.

It simply can’t be fair that people in Derbyshire, like people all over the country, pay their income tax to Government yet we receive less back from national funds than 90 per cent of other councils.

Councils in areas with more expensive properties, like London and the south, can raise far more in council tax than Derbyshire is able to. And councils in urban areas can bring in a lot of money from things like car parking and toll roads. The rural and small town nature of Derbyshire means opportunities to raise income on a large scale are limited and this isn’t taken into account in Government funding.

SNIPFUNDING

That’s why we’ve called on Parliament to make sure there’s ‘A Fair Share for Derbyshire’ at a time when Government is reviewing how funding is allocated.

This week I travelled to Westminster with three of the county council’s most senior officers to explain the financial difficulties and pressures we’re facing to five Derbyshire MPs and to urge them to back the campaign to make sure our public services get their fair share of funding.

Over the next five years, under the current funding formula, the council needs to save £63.2m from a budget of £519.5m – on top of £257 million already saved since 2010.

The money that Derbyshire County Council receives comes from three different places – council tax, government grants and income from charging for some council services.

To be frank all councils need more money from Government to continue providing services for their residents. But in each of these three funding streams, Derbyshire loses out compared to most other areas of the country.

So we’ve launched the Fair Share for Derbyshire campaign which focuses on seven ‘asks’ to Government to make sure the county gets its fair share in the future:

  1. Significant local differences, such as the fact Derbyshire’s elderly population is much higher than the national average, should be taken into account when money is handed out.
  2. It is unfair that council tax payers in some areas of the country pay less yet receive more local services whereas in other areas council tax payers pay more but their local services are being cut. This postcode lottery should end.
  3. One-off or short term funding from Government is only a sticking plaster. Councils should be properly baseline funded so they can plan future services for their residents.
  4. Cities benefit under the current funding formula at the expense of rural areas because no account is taken of the extra cost of providing services – such as public and school transport and social care – over a wide or remote area.
  5. For councils such as Derbyshire with large upland areas, the cost of gritting roads in winter should be a factor in Government funding.
  6. Funding for new Government initiatives, burdens and pressures, such as unaccompanied asylum seekers, should be adequate to meet our responsibilities.
  7. Overall the national budget for funding local council services is simply not large enough to maintain vital services such as children’s and adult social care.

We’ve been calling for a Government review of council funding for a long time. All we’re
looking for is an even playing field with other areas across the country, at the heart of which should be an evidence-led approach on outcomes that are achieved.

We want the Government to recognise areas where Derbyshire is underfunded and I was encouraged by the fact that all the MPs we met this week agreed to support our campaign and make sure our voice is heard in Parliament.

Local government can’t continue to survive in this climate. Councils do their fair share in bringing in money, residents do their fair share in paying council tax, now it’s time for Government to do its fair share.

Find out more at http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/fairshare

Help us Keep Britain Tidy…

I’m exceptionally proud of Derbyshire, and I think we’re extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful county.

I take every opportunity possible to promote what Derbyshire has to offer – and boast about the beautiful countryside, interesting and varied towns and villages, great heritage and history to anyone who’ll listen.

As an authority, we’re obviously very passionate about Derbyshire and are keen to support the ever growing tourism industry, already worth more than £2billion to the local economy and providing hundreds of jobs.

And we spend millions on disposing of and recycling rubbish, and run nine household waste recycling centres that are open for 362 days a year.

That’s why I get so angry when I see litter in our hedges, strewn over grass verges and dropped in parks and streets. Ironically, some of this is a result of people enjoying the sights and beautiful countryside, only to then throw their rubbish – anything from nappies to takeaway packaging – out of the car on the way home.

Drinks cans, takeaway wrappers, plastic bags and bottles, gum, discarded cigarettes and dog mess seem to be too much trouble for some to pick up. And when I see someone throwing litter from a car window into our beautiful countryside it literally makes my blood boil.

It’s irresponsible and selfish, and as well as threatening to ruin our clean and pleasant county, it can turn off our visitors and threaten our wildlife too.

And, it costs councils millions of pounds every year to clean it all up, and that means it’s hitting our taxpayers too.

It’s about personal responsibility. Those that carelessly throw their rubbish in the streets show utter disdain for their environment and for others, and frustratingly it’s their taxes being used to clean it up.

While our colleagues in district and borough councils do a great job of keeping our towns and villages clean and litter-free, they can’t do it all.

Working together we can stamp out this kind of irresponsible behaviour shown by a minority of people, and keep our county clean and tidy.

There’s loads of ways Derbyshire residents can get involved and do their bit.

From 22 March to 23 April, Keep Britain Tidy is running its annual Great British Spring Clean, and Derbyshire County Council is throwing its weight behind this. Their website has all the information about getting involved www.keepbritaintidy.org

The Great British Spring Clean is encouraging groups, individuals, charities and councils to organise clean-ups, and if there isn’t one already in your area, why not think about organising one yourself?

There’s also Litteraction, backed by two charities, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and CleanupUK, which lists around 20 active litter picking groups in Derbyshire. It’s bringing local volunteers together and offering help and support to set up new groups. Look at their website to see if there’s a group near you and if they’re planning anything https://www.litteraction.org.uk/

I already pick up litter I see strewn around when I’m out and about, and rest assured, I’ll be rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in to help with community efforts.

I believe that if we all work together we can tackle this issue and keep our county looking at its best for all of us – whether we live, work or visit here.

Simple actions really can make a difference and ensure we remain proud of the community we live in and Derbyshire as a whole.

Our journey towards becoming an Enterprising Council

Today the Council publishes its Enterprising Council strategy as the Local Government Association publishes its own view on how we are doing.

We invited the LGA to conduct an assessment of our performance, strategy and operating model as part of our desire to continually improve what we do.

The report concluded that we are on very solid foundations with a good approach to running the council. We are financially very stable with good working relationships and a desire to innovate and continually modernise.

Of course there are areas where we need to improve, as the report highlights. We need to foster more of a ‘One Council’ approach, working towards a single vision for what success looks like. In doing so, we need to work more closely with our partners and ensure that all our services are delivered in the most efficient and effective way.

The gear shift at County Hall that is already underway is embodied in our Enterprising Council strategy, which is published today.

It provides a road map to the change ahead as we seek to bring down the cost of delivering services which is the key to our financial sustainability. Although I am not going to sit here and pretend that it is a magic wand – we still face many tough decisions as we seek to save £63.2 million over the next five years as our contribution to reducing the national deficit.

It is also not a strategy driven by ideology. We are not wedded to a specific view on how services should be delivered. Indeed, in areas like Highways, we are already seeing significant efficiency and performance improvements from our own in-house team. This is exactly what Enterprising Council is about: fostering a culture of creativity and innovation across County Hall and beyond.

Listening to residents and protecting vital services – Budget 2019/20

We’re in the process of setting our budget for the coming year and deciding how and where your money will be spent.

We work hard to ensure value for money for every Derbyshire resident by spending every pound wisely and we’ve listened to what you told us about priorities.

You told us that protecting services for vulnerable people should be a top priority, and you told us you want us to continue investing in our roads.

We’ll be doing this while keeping council tax as low as we can.

Here I explain in more detail what we’re proposing for the year ahead.

 

Kick off the New Year with an Action Grant – applications for next round open now!

If you run a community group, club or charity applications for our next round of Action Grants are open now! We’ll be accepting applications for our fourth round of £500 grants up to 31 March 2019.

We’ve already given away almost £250,000 to 188 groups across Derbyshire for a wide range of activities. The process is quick and simple and we’ll aim to give you a decision within four weeks of the deadline.

Up for grabs from our £1.5m fund are 2,000 small grants of up to £500, a number of grants worth up to £5,000 and – for schemes which can be shown to offer long-term benefits for local people and promote two or more of the Action Grant themes – potential grants of £10,000.

Following the March 31 deadline for our current round of £500 grants, four more application rounds will follow until the scheme ends in May 2020.

Find more information, download your application pack and sign up to our Action Grants eNewsletter at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/action

Council leader looks back on a busy 2018

As 2018 draws to a close it’s time to reflect on what’s been a very busy 12 months for Derbyshire County Council.

Winter was the coldest and harshest we’ve seen for 10 years. The Beast from the East was relentless and really put our gritting teams to the test as they worked day and night to keep Derbyshire moving.

This took its toll on our roads, and we’ve been working hard to repair the damage ever since. Extra funding, more road gangs and equipment has paid off and we’ve fixed more than 65,000 potholes since January.

The summer months brought more extreme weather, with the hottest summer since 1976 and the highest demand on water supplies for 40 years. We worked closely with Severn Trent Water and other partners to ensure that where water was scarce, residents including vulnerable people and farmers with livestock were still able to get supplies.

When I think about the council’s achievements over the year, there’s a lot to talk about.

We’ve relaunched our £30 million programme to provide high quality and affordable residential and extra care accommodation for older people, with Thomas Fields in Buxton welcoming its first residents and work well under way at the new 40-bed care home and library in Belper. Plans are also coming along for a new care home in Cotmanhay.

Across the council we’ve welcomed more than 100 new apprentices taking up various roles and our flagship regeneration site Markham Vale goes from strength to strength, with three major investment announcements and a number of smaller businesses moving on to the site.

We’ve been celebrating the important 20th anniversary of our twinning relationship with Toyota this year, and successful overseas visits to China and Japan have seen links between our countries strengthened further. Importantly we’ve been forging new business links for a post-Brexit era.

And the county itself has been celebrating after scooping a Bronze British Travel Award – which is very close to our hearts due to our support of the Derbyshire tourism industry.

Caring for our county is what has sparked our efforts to do more when it comes to single-use plastics. We’ve been reviewing our own plastic use across the authority and have started by getting rid of single-use plastics at County Hall.

And we’re continuing work to secure the future of some of Derbyshire’s most historic buildings. We’ve drawn up a master plan for a sustainable future for Elvaston and our investment in the Buxton Crescent will reap rewards and certainly boost the local economy when it’s unveiled in all its glory.

While there’s a lot of good news to report, we still face great pressures on our budget and we’re working hard to ensure we maintain high quality, vital services for all our residents.

Being an Enterprising Council and ensuring all our services provide the best value for money are at the heart of all we do, and this will continue.

Some services will change, like the library service, where we’re looking to transfer 20 of our libraries over to community management from next year. More than 7,000 of you had your say in a consultation earlier this year on the plans and we’ll be working very closely with local communities over the coming months to get this moving.

Other services which we’ve looked at closely include our school crossing patrols, which we considered stopping. However, the service will now stay as we know how important it is to our communities.

Supporting strong, resilient and safe communities continues to be a priority for us, and I’m hoping groups across the county will continue to successfully apply for our action grants, as almost 200 clubs and organisations already have.

As you can see, there’s a lot to report from 2018 and this is just a flavour of the past 12 months. I’m sure 2019 will be just as busy.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our staff and all Derbyshire residents who will be working over the festive period to keep us all safe, keep things open and keep the county moving.

Have a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2019.

Apply now for an Action Grant to give your group a cash boost

If you run a community group, club or charity, applications for our next round of £500 Action Grants close on 31 December 2018. So do get your bids in!  

We’ve already given away £210,000 to 112 groups across Derbyshire for a wide range of activities.

Up for grabs from our £1.5m fund are 2,000 small grants of up to £500, a number of grants worth up to £5,000 and – for schemes which can be shown to offer long-term benefits for local people and promote two or more of the Action Grant themes – potential grants of £10,000.

More application rounds will follow next year until the scheme ends in May 2020.

Find more information, download your application pack and sign up to our Action Grants eNewsletter at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/action