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Vale of White Horse District Council Leader's report - 15 May 2019

on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 1:29pm

Leader's Report to the Vale Annual Council meeting, Wednesday 15 May 2019 

Congratulations to all members, from all parties, on winning your seats. I particularly welcome everyone who has been elected to this council for the first time. It is a fascinating and challenging time to be involved in local government.

The Vale of White Horse is a wonderful place to live, work and visit and this council has a very strong team of officers, but we have some significant challenges ahead.

This council will need to make some very difficult decisions over the coming years to produce a sustainable budget and generate enough income to pay for the services our residents need and expect. We need to be far more pro-active in terms of income generation as well as lobbying for more government funding.

The Vale receives far less from business rates than other councils, the New Homes bonus scheme is being phased out and we are being expected to deliver more and more housing without enough funding to cover the costs of infrastructure.

The government spending review, due in the autumn, will impact on every single one of our service areas, and will require significant work to understand and mitigate for any reductions.

As well as overseeing the effective running of their services areas, I will be asking cabinet members, to explore new ways to tackle the big issues affecting Vale residents; making sure development is more environmentally and socially sustainable, actively pursuing ways to deliver truly affordable housing, and helping our market towns to be healthy and thriving community centres.

Much of the work ahead will take time to come to fruition but I hope we can make some early changes that will help define our direction of travel; like coming up with a new vision statement for this Council that reflects our residents’ priorities; and suggesting a new name for the ‘Growth Board’ that reflects the need for sustainability.

And of course, having declared a climate emergency, we need to find ways to put reducing our impact on climate change at the heart of every decision we make.

While the challenges are significant, I am confident that the work we’re planning over the coming months will put us all in a good position to meet those challenges.

It’s going to be a very busy four years. I look forward to working with you all and being able to use this slot on council agendas to update on our progress. 

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council

From an article on the Vale's website; see the original <here>.