A council tax freeze and investment in the the Stroud economy were approved by district leaders last night.
At a full council meeting at Ebley Mill, Stroud District Council approved its spending plans for the year ahead. They include increasing investment by nearly £2million on areas including the economy, housing and renewable energy. The council also agreed not to increase its portion of council tax bills for 2013/14.
After the meeting Stroud District Council leader, Geoff Wheeler, said:
'We want to help residents and businesses through difficult times by promoting employment, strengthening the local economy and helping the vulnerable. Sound financial management and the recovery of our Icelandic bank deposits means that we are in the fortunate position to be able to invest in our district at a time when many other authorities are having to make major cuts to services. Against a backdrop of higher living costs and low wage increases, freezing council tax will also help householders' budgets.'
£1.25million has been put forward for the next two years to support businesses, create jobs and promote growth. £700,000 of this expenditure is for a strategic employment reserve to explore economic regeneration opportunities. £100,000 will be used to attract employers to the district while £60,000 will be used for employment initiatives and apprenticeships.
Councillor Wheeler added:
'£195,000 has been assigned for initiatives next year to help those in fuel poverty, housing difficulty and poor health, and also to reduce the impact of the recession on our communities.'
The extra spending comes on top of the £36million that the council will be spending on improving and building new council homes in the next five years.
Councillor Wheeler added:
'As well as building more affordable homes and improving the quality of existing ones, this significant investment in housing, combined with our expansionary budget, will act as a major stimulus for the local economy at a time when it is really needed.'
£500,000 is also being put forward to reduce the council's energy costs and improve its carbon footprint. One of the proposed green initiatives is the installation of a small hydroelectric power scheme next to the council offices, which is expected to make a significant contribution to its electricity bills. The council has already reduced its reliance on expensive fossil fuels by installing solar panels at its two main leisure centres in Stroud and Dursley. These save thousands of pounds a year and bring in income which can then be spent on services to our residents. The hydroelectric scheme is expected to save a further £30,000 a year.