Colin Grainger

Newham Mayor reveals plans for New Deal for borough

 Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales has unveiled plans for a New Deal for the borough’s residents which includes a £100 million investment to keep the borough moving while protecting frontline services and cutting Council Tax.

A wide-ranging package of measures has been developed in response to an extensive public consultation, which saw a record response from Newham residents, on the services that matter most to them.

His proposals include investing £100 million over the next ten years in improving all of the borough’s roads, pavements and lights; additional resources to keep Newham clean including an extra £1m a year on enforcement; and continuing to fund 40 additional police officers to help keep residents safe.

Despite harsh government funding cuts, Newham Council has frozen its share of the Council Tax for the last seven years and will do so again.

The consultation showed a key priority for residents was supporting vulnerable adults. The government has continually underfunded adult social care services forcing the Mayor to accept the government’s two per cent care tax. It is estimated that this will help raise £1.3 million a year towards the shortfall for adult services until April 2020.

Sir Robin said: “The under-funding of our most vulnerable citizens is a grotesque dereliction of duty from the government. Those who can best afford it should pay more – including companies like Google. It is outrageous that a pensioner in Plaistow will pay more than a millionaire in Mayfair.”

However, because Newham’s share of the Council Tax will be frozen for the eighth successive year, and the Olympic tax to fund the 2012 Games is expected to end this April, the combined effect means that Newham residents will pay slightly less next year than in 2015/16.

Over the last five years the council has achieved savings of £117 million without cutting front-line services. The revised government settlement means the council now needs to find around £70 million savings by 2020. Today’s proposals include £38 million of savings, income generation and other efficiencies to help balance the budget for 2016/2017 meaning no front-line council services will need to be cut next year.

Sir Robin said: “We have faced millions of pounds of cuts from central government which disproportionately target the areas of highest need. Our decisive actions means we have met this challenge while still freezing Council Tax, not cutting front line services and investing in innovative schemes to give our residents the same opportunities as those in wealthier parts of London.

“We continue to face significant challenges in the future. But the successes we have already achieved and the New Deal for Newham will mean we will continue delivering the services that matter most to our residents.

“While we can freeze our share of the Council Tax, the government’s savage cuts to adult social care is forcing us to implement its care tax. However my proposals will still protect frontline services without Council Tax going up.”

The Mayor’s proposed New Deal for Newham includes:

  • Keeping Newham Moving – a New Deal for our Roads: investing £100 million over the next ten years to improve the borough’s roads, footpaths and streetlights to help people travel across Newham as safely and smoothly as possible. The council is also looking to support more car clubs, take tougher enforcement action of yellow box junctions and introduce a borough-wide parking zone to give residents priority over parking in their own neighbourhood;
  • Keeping Newham Clean – a New Deal for our Environment: £¼m extra to make the borough cleaner and greener by introducing teams to visit residents and businesses to encourage them to recycle and keep their neighbourhood clean; £1million invested in a new dedicated enforcement team to ensure those who dump rubbish on the streets are made to pay for their actions; bringing in a bulky waste collection charge for a 12 month trial period, and maintaining weekly waste collections;
  • ongoing investment in the council’s work brokerage scheme Workplace which has helped nearly 30,000 residents into jobs since 2007;
  • continuing to improve the quality of the borough’s private rented sector through the landlord licensing scheme and ensuring new developments provide the affordable homes needed by Newham’s residents;
  • identifying commercial funding to reduce Council spending on annual free events which bring local communities together including Under the Stars and the Mayor’s Newham Show.

The Council received more than 3,600 responses to its budget consultation last year. This included 1,255 who took part in a representative survey. All of the views expressed helped develop the council’s budget proposals. Among the key findings of the representative survey were:

  • more than three quarters (77 per cent) of residents are satisfied with the way the council runs its services;
  • the top three areas residents said the council should focus on when making savings or increasing income were reduce spending on its free events (49 per cent), spending on arts and community groups (36 per cent) and introducing charges for free environmental services (29 per cent);
  • the least popular ways the council could make savings or generate income were reducing spending on adults and vulnerable people (82 per cent opposed), reducing spending on looking after vulnerable children (82 per cent opposed) and reducing spending on crime and anti social behaviour (78 per cent opposed);
  • three quarters of residents (76 per cent) opposed reducing spending on closing libraries and community centres and street cleaning.

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This article was written on 12 Feb 2016, and is filed under Newham, Newham Council, Sir Robin Wales.

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