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Monthly report : March/April 2020

Budget and Council tax increase

Babergh's Budget for 2020/21 has been set at £10.2M. Funding sources include "earmarked reserves - £615K, New Homes Bonus - £683K, S31 Grant - £1,107K (covers a variety of specific needs and local government responsibilities,) Business Rates - £1,892K, Rural Services Delivery Grant - £227K, and, of course, Council Tax - £5,466K.

Council voted to increase Babergh's share of council tax by £5 a year, but once other precepts are added - County, Police and Parish, the overall increase in our bills will be higher. The new, total annual charge for a Band D property in Capel St Mary, for example, will rise to £1814.70. Babergh's portion of this is £186.86; for Police and Crime Commissioner it's £222.75, and County £1343.61. The parish precept makes up the balance.

District Councils are the collecting agencies for all of these local taxes. They also collect non-domestic (i.e. business) rates, but they do not set the level of these. The Valuation Office Agency determine "the rateable value" and the "multiplier" is set by Government. NDR apply to many properties that are not always for business use - e.g. beach huts, village halls, solar farms, doctors' surgeries, schools and hospitals. Agricultural land and buildings are exempt, as are churches, sewers, parks and bee keeping! Examples of local RV are: Partridges, Hadleigh RV £120,000; Tesco at Copdock Mill RV £2.5M; Stoke by Nayland Golf Club RV £418,500. The "multiplier" means that just under half of the RVs is actually payable.

National award for Council Planners
Planning officers for Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have been recognised for technological advances as part of 21st century planning. The Development Management team, which looks after planning matters for both councils, won silver in the Best Use of Digital and Technology category at the annual iESE - Public Sector Transformation Awards 2020. The category recognises the innovative use of digital tools and technology in order to improve services for residents. Judges were impressed by how the team had streamlined the planning application process for residents across the districts, becoming one of the top performing authorities for timely planning decisions. The team has also introduced electronic case management and a mobile app in order to put vital information at the fingertips of officers and the public - with public searches of information leaping from 600,000 in 2017 to 1.3m in 2018

Monthly report : February/March 2020

Next steps for Hadleigh's new pool

Work to build a new swimming pool at Hadleigh will enter its next phase this Spring. All existing facilities including the current pool have so far remained open and unaffected during most of the works. However, to enable final preparations ahead of its demolition later this year, the current pool will close on Friday 20 March. The new pool will be connected to the plant room and a link corridor between the buildings will be constructed. Hadleigh Pool and Leisure's other spaces and activities, including the gym, group exercise classes and the community and social rooms will remain open throughout the works.

Funding support for Citizens Advice approved
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District have approved funding support for Citizens Advice (CA) of more than £420k. In Babergh, there will be at least £160,500 for Sudbury and District Citizens Advice over a three-year period, some £53,500 per annum. Smaller levels of funding for the Suffolk West, Diss and Ipswich CAs will continue to be agreed annually.

Parking Plan
This is to enable local councils to support communities by allowing parking where possible, and controlling it where necessary. Powers are being transferred to the districts from April this year. The aim is to support economic growth and reduce emissions to aid a healthy environment and also to improve road safety and security. In theory this should improve the quality of life for residents. The plan is not about introducing paid parking, nor parking arrangements for specific areas. However, there are suggestions that longer-term parking charges should be increased possibly by 50% - from £2 to £3.

The past year yielded a significant New Homes Bonus (NHB) sum for Babergh of £548K. Unfortunately, unlike previous years when NHB was paid for four years, this latest and largest will only be for the one year. 2022/2023 will be the last year of any NHB payment, which at present is a cause for concern for Babergh's finances. There will be some increases in charges next year including bulky waste collection - up to £42.50 for up to five items or 10 sacks of household waste or garden refuse; and brown bin renewals will be £52.50 for the year. Babergh's portion of council tax is likely to rise by £5 a year.