Copeland Borough Council is calling on people to offer their views on the draft corporate plan and budget strategy.
Every year the council has to agree a balanced budget – this means income must balance against expenditure.
Government grants, which used to make up a significant proportion of council income, have been reducing each year and Copeland Borough Council is looking at a new way of financing council services through commercialisation.
Copeland needs to find around £4m over the next four years to continue to support statutory services and to fund investment in delivering the proposed plans for the borough.
The Mayor and the Council are keen to address the funding gap by making Copeland Council commercially-focused - generating income by providing services on the open market to finance council services.
Part of the consultation therefore asks for residents' and business owners’ feedback on increasing the commercial activity of the council to make it self-financing.
The draft plan focuses on continually reviewing services to ensure they meet the needs of the people of Copeland and ensuring they are efficient and effective. Therefore part of the consultation asks residents what services are important to them.
Key themes in the corporate plan and draft budget strategy are:
•Investing £1 million in town centre regeneration
•Investing £200,000 to set up a Copeland Trading Company to become self-financing and contribute to the council’s budget from 2017/18
•Reviewing debt recovery procedures to minimise the need to write off bad debts
•Introducing charges for garden waste collection services, bringing us in line with our competitors
•Making £500,000 in efficiencies during 2016/17
•Reviewing existing contracts.
Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie, said: “We need to find in the region of £4m over the next four years to continue to support statutory services and to fund investment in delivering growth, through the commercialisation of the council.
“My vision for Copeland Council is that of a commercially-focused organisation with a national reputation for high quality services. The mission is to make Copeland a better place to live, work and visit.
“The council has a strong foundation to build upon, with two towns within the borough being in the national ‘Top 10 best places to raise a family.' With low crime rates, low house prices and higher than average wages, Copeland already has much to offer. With the advent of new developments, especially Moorside, we have the ideal opportunity to build on these strong foundations.
“We need to make efficiencies to invest in the commercialisation which will enable us to be financially self-sufficient and create a legacy for future generations.
“Central government grants are reducing each year, and by generating money from commercial enterprises through a trading company, we can generate funding to provide services and help our communities grow.
“Copeland is taking the route of self-determination, proposing that we invest in the commercialisation of the council to be financially self-sufficient.”
The Mayor is holding four public meetings across the borough to discuss the draft corporate plan as part of the budget consultation, and meeting with local business groups. The Corporate Strategy 2016-2020 and Medium Term Financial Strategy Report are available on the council website at: https://copeland.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s1430/Budget.pdf.
People can also see a video with the council's key messages at: https://youtu.be/iHzNAAe4edA.
The budget consultation runs until January 18 2016 and responses can be provided via an online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CopelandBudget2016_17, or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org . Paper copies of the survey are also available online, from council offices or upon request from the council.
The Mayor’s public meetings will be:
Tuesday December 8, 6pm Millom Rugby League Club
Wednesday December 9, 6pm Copeland Centre Whitehaven
Monday December 14, 6pm Egremont Cricket Club
Wednesday December 16, 6pm Wath Brow Hornets RL Club, Cleator Moor