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Posted: Mon, 06 Feb 2023 11:44 by Tracy Sampson
Next year's budget will see West Northamptonshire Council invest an additional £30m in capital funding on a range of projects, some of which will help reduce costs and generate income to support services in future years. More »
Other schemes set to move forward in the year ahead will help tackle speeding in rural areas, create new cycleways and footpaths for healthier travel, and improve local roads.
The Council is setting aside a total of £101m in its capital programme for 2023/24 – an increase of £30m compared to its previous plans for the year. The additional expenditure is earmarked to improve local infrastructure and assets such as land, buildings, and equipment. It is separate to the revenue budget the Council spends on the day-to-day running of services, which includes funding from Council Tax.
Cllr Jonathan Nunn, Leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: "We're always looking for innovative and efficient ways to support and deliver services and using capital budgets to not only improve our local communities but help us make ongoing savings or generate new income is something we're particularly focusing on.
"For example, In 2023 we're planning to invest an additional £1m towards our LED street lighting initiative which will really help to reduce our energy bills year on year whilst keeping streets safely lit. We've also committed to building new commercial units for lease on Daventry's Heartlands Industrial Estate which will enable local business to grow, create jobs and provide new regular income to the public purse.
"Some of what we're planning to spend through the capital budget is aimed at improving people's lives further, such as working with parish councils on traffic calming schemes in some of our villages. And we're planning to make improvements to foster carers' homes to ensure they can continue supporting us, thereby avoiding more costly care through private providers.
"Creating a more sustainable West Northants is a key priority for us and we will continue to use our capital programme to pursue opportunities for reducing our carbon emissions. For example, alongside our plans to invest in LED lighting we will also be progressing with plans to decarbonise our leisure centres. As big energy users, this will reduce both their energy costs and emissions enormously."
New capital investment projects set to progress in the coming year include:
- Increased spend on highways maintenance and improvement
- Active travel enhancements like cycleways and footpaths
- Switch to LED street lighting
- The development of a new commercial property at Heartlands, Daventry
- Leisure centre decarbonisation scheme
- Rural vehicle speed reduction
- Replacement of play equipment and safety surfaces in parks.
Work will also continue on delivering plans to drive economic growth in West Northants with further progress expected on delivering multi-million-pound plans to revitalise the centre of Northampton through the Government's Towns Fund, starting with the Market Square transformation.
In addition to the capital programme, during the next financial year the Council will also be earmarking government public health funding to progress a range of schemes aimed at improving residents' wellbeing, reducing health inequalities and continuing to support communities through the ongoing cost of living crisis.
WNC's Cabinet will consider the full range of General Fund Capital proposals at their meeting on Monday, 13 February. View the agenda and reports on the Council's website
Posted: Mon, 06 Feb 2023 11:43 by Tracy Sampson
Proposals by West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) to increase fees and charges for important, non-essential services will help to address an unprecedented rise in running costs and service demand for the year ahead. More »
The Council, which was facing the risk of a significant budget shortfall for 2023/24, plans to protect critical services for vulnerable residents by increasing discretionary fees and charges in areas where people can choose if they wish to use the service.
The budget proposals include increasing fees where possible to cover the rising costs associated with running services. Current national averages charged for some services have also been considered and in a number of cases raising charges for services where they had not been reviewed for several years, to ensure they fairly reflect today's costs.
Cabinet members continue to consider the final package of parking fees and charges for next year and will consider comments received through the budget consultation exercise and following several meetings with business leaders and other interested parties. Their final car parking proposals will be announced at the Cabinet meeting on 13 February.
The Council is continuing to explore a range of options around flexible pricing structures at the car parks to help address concerns from local businesses around the proposals.
Other plans being considered for the year ahead include setting the annual garden waste service charge at £55, in line with typical green waste schemes operated by councils across the country.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: "Inflationary pressures have already had a huge impact on this year's budget and are anticipated to lead to £18m in added costs to our services next year, an impact we urgently need to address.
"Many of our fees and charges were not annually reviewed by the predecessor councils, and in some cases had fallen well behind annual inflation rises.
"We have focused so hard on fees around discretionary services, where residents at least have some choices on whether they wish to use them.
"We fully appreciate that the plans to increase some discretionary fees, such as parking charges, have raised concerns. We have listened carefully to this feedback and are actively looking at options to try to address these concerns, given the really tough financial constraints that we have.
"Our focus has also included benchmarking fees and charges nationally against other local authorities to ensure we are providing services at fair cost. Our proposal to set the garden waste charge at £55 for example brings it in line with many other local authorities but it is still by no means among the highest."
WNC's Cabinet will consider the 2023/24 budget proposals at their meeting on Monday, 13 February. View the agenda and reports on the Council's website» Less
Posted: Mon, 06 Feb 2023 10:38 by Tracy Sampson
This year's International Women's Day event is set to be West Northants' biggest yet with over 30 stalls, a variety of performances, workshops, and more.
Taking place at the Guildhall, St Giles Square, Northampton, on Saturday, 4 March from 11am to 3pm, the event will include African drumming and dance performances, a Flavour of Somalia fashion show and a designated business corner for female entrepreneurs. More »
Partner organisations from across the county including Eve, Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service (NDAS), Gamcare, New World Women and Baby Basics will be among the many stalls in the event marketplace.
There will be two free workshops taking place on the day, including:
- Information for women considering starting a new business and advice on what support is available, taking place from 11.30am to 12.30pm
- Interactive workshop to engage and inspire children in engineering, computer science and creativity, taking place from 1pm to 2pm (details to follow)
Also taking place on the day will be a presentation of the Inspirational Women's Awards.
The awards, organised by the Women's Forum at West Northamptonshire Council (WNC), aim to publicly recognise and promote those women who inspire and have a real impact on the lives of others in the community or the workplace.
Neelam Aggarwal-Singh, a self-employed Consultant & Trainer from Northampton, won the very first Inspirational Women's Award back in 2013 and is a member of the judging panel again this year.
She said: "The awards are a great way to recognise the wonderful work done by so many unsung heroes in our community and the many women who are great role models and impact people's lives in various ways.
"International Women's Day is an excellent celebration and I am delighted to be part of the judging panel this year. Come on everyone, put your pen to paper and nominate those special individuals who have touched your life and made a real difference!"
Nominations close on Monday, 6 February 2023, with the shortlisted finalists being announced in the week beginning 20 February. Shortlisted nominees will be invited to the Guildhall for an afternoon tea reception prior to the winners presentation at 2pm.
Cllr David Smith, WNC's Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Engagement, and Regulatory Services, said: "International Women's Day highlights the accomplishments of women and the steps being taken towards equality around the world.
"I encourage everyone to come along and get involved in the many activities we have going on to celebrate the wonderful women in our communities - and it's not too late to nominate the women who play a hugely important role in your life for the Inspirational Women's Awards – the perfect way to show your appreciation and say 'thank you'!
International Women's Day falls on 8 March every year, and this year's theme is #EmbraceEquity.