Saffron Walden Town Council to take on prized assets
RESPONSIBILITY for some of Saffron Walden s most prized assets will be transferred to the town council, it was agreed at a meeting on Tuesday night. The Jubilee Gardens, the Battle Ditches, Radwinter Road Cemetery and Dorset House Gardens are all currently
RESPONSIBILITY for some of Saffron Walden's most prized assets will be transferred to the town council, it was agreed at meeting on Tuesday night.
The Jubilee Gardens, the Battle Ditches, Radwinter Road Cemetery and Dorset House Gardens are all currently owned by Uttlesford District Council (UDC).
However, ownership of these important public amenities is likely to be given to Saffron Walden Town Council by the beginning of next year.
Town Clerk Malcolm White said: "This decision is a benefit for the taxpayer because the town council believe it can run these facilities cheaper and more efficiently.
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"The town council has already shown that it can take on responsibility for some of the town's amenities, such as the Close Gardens and the Tourist Information Centre, and offer an improved service."
The decision was made by members of UDC's Environment Committee and has been approved in principal, pending public consultation.
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The move will benefit cash-strapped UDC which is faced with the task of finding �1.3 million worth of savings from its annual running costs by 2013. Off loading these facilities to the town council could produce an annual saving of �72,000 phased in over five years.
Initially a grant will be given to the town council to help them pay for the running of the services, but this will be tapered out.
Mr White said: "There won't be a problem for the town council in running these facilities. We already have the staff and the grant will allow us to improve our capital equipment so they can work more efficiently."
If the handover is successful it is expected that other amenities, such as the Bridge End Gardens, will follow.