Conservative controlled New Forest District councillors welcomed a report on the council's key achievements at a recent Cabinet meeting (4 June). Executive Director Bob Jackson told members that during 2013/14 the council had continued to provide excellent frontline services to local people, as well as offer new services, in spite of a £3.9 million reduction in funding from government and council tax income.
Leader of the council, Cllr Barry Rickman, said: "I'm delighted that we are meeting our aspirations for the service we give to our electorate, despite the continuing difficult financial climate we're operating in."
The council's Cabinet was told that efforts to implement budget savings and to generate income had resulted in a saving of approximately £900,000 in the year 2013/14. Council tax remained unchanged for the fifth year.
All the council's major services, including housing, environment, planning, public health, leisure and employment, have been protected and, in fact, the council improved or introduced new services, such as a household glass collection.
The council's annual Performance and Key Achievements report for 2013/14 was presented in a new visual format which highlighted some of the major achievements during the past year. View the report.
New Forest District Council Authority
Key achievements included:
- Joint working with the emergency services to protect communities under threat of flooding in February 2014 - including the delivery of 7500 sandbags to the north of Fordingbridge, which were successfully used to divert ground water away from properties under threat.
- During the severe Valentine's Day storm along the coast, the council worked with the emergency services to rescue trapped diners from the Marine Café at Milford-on-Sea. It then helped remove 1000 tonnes of shingle and more than 35 tonnes of wood from the surrounding area.
- Appletree Careline was launched - a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year service to enable elderly and vulnerable residents to remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible.
- Four major heating projects were completed in council buildings to reduce carbon emissions and save money on gas bills.
- The council's first public toilets powered by solar energy were opened in Lyndhurst.
- 614 people participated in the NFDC Health and Leisure health programmes through a GP referral
- 4,506 children enrolled on group swimming lessons in 2013 (up 4.6% on previous year)
- The council supported the UK's first 'Small Business Saturday' - a national campaign aimed at encouraging people to shop local.
- Four new affordable homes were built in Milford-on-Sea and four new council flats are set to be built in Totton. The development is the first of its kind in more than 20 years to be designed and funded by the council.
- The Public Health and Community Safety team won a leadership and achievement award from Hampshire Constabulary's chief superintendent.
Bob Jackson praised the dedication and skills of the 1300 members of staff who work for the council across the district. He said: "As you'll see from the report, we have many achievements, which we can all be proud of."
Local Conservatives have worked extremely hard over the past eight to provide value for money at a lower cost to residents of the New Forest. We are very pleased that central government is now recognising this achievement.