Ashfield Council hits budget and improves

A REVIEW of Ashfield District Council’s performance in the last year has declared it is heading in the right direction.

The council is responsible for providing many of the services relied on by residents of Hucknall, including the emptying of wheelie-bins.

In recent years, it has had to face reduced financial support from the government and has been forced to shave millions of pounds from its budget.

It has attempted to do this while protecting front-line services.

Now the council’s Cabinet, whose role it is to review and challenge performance, discussed the review at a recent meeting.

Members were told the council is ‘continuing to deliver improvements to its services while operating within its budget’.

“This report highlights areas of good performance and gives an indication of how we intend to improve in the future,” said deputy council leader, Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall (pictured).

“Most importantly, it shows how the authority has achieved these improvements whilst operating within its financial budget.”

The most impressive improvement has been against environmental objectives, while the smallest level of improvement has been against economic targets.

The installation of solar panels and the use of more environmentally friendly vehicles has resulted in a seven per cent reduction in the council’s carbon-dioxide levels.

Rates of recyling have also improved. The amount of waste from each household now going to landfill has been slashed by 18 kg.

Improvements to the district’s main parks, including Titchfield in Hucknall, has resulted in being awarded six green flags, recognising excellent green spaces.

A reduction in crime levels across many areas, including domestic violence, burglary and violence has resulted in people’s perception of crime changing for the better.

Now 87% of residents feel safe during the day and 50% more residents now feel safe after dark.

Other areas which have seen improvements include:

l MAINTAINING homes in a decent standard and increasing the number of empty homes brought back into use since 2008;

l SIGNIFICANT reductions in the time taken to deal with housing benefits

l IMPROVED rates of council tax and rent collection.

Ongoing town-centre improvements in Hucknall, Sutton and Kirkby were also praised.

Overall residents in Ashfield are satisfield with the area as a place to live, feel they are able to have their say and believe the authority is delivering value for money.

Areas identified for improvement over the next three years include:

l WORK with schools to increase aspiration and skills

l INTERVENTION by the council to enable increases in business growth and employment opportunities.

l TIME taken to process planning applications.

l REDUCE the number of commercial properties standing empty;

l IMPROVED understanding of communities;

l ABILITY to deal with potential increases in homelessness levels;

l AND REDUCTION of sickness-absence levels among staff