Top Government minister hails Uttlesford’s financial turnaround

From left, UDC leader Jim Ketteridge, finance chief Stephen Joyce, Brandon Lewis MP, Cllr Robert Cha

From left, UDC leader Jim Ketteridge, finance chief Stephen Joyce, Brandon Lewis MP, Cllr Robert Chambers, portfolio holder for finance, Sir Alan Haselhurst MP and chief executive John Mitchell. - Credit: Archant

A TOP Government minister praised Uttlesford District Council’s financial transformation when he visited Saffron Walden on Monday.

Brandon Lewis, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for local government, was invited to the authority’s headquarters by council leader Cllr Jim Ketteridge.

The minister held an hour-and-a-half long meeting with Cllr Ketteridge, his cabinet, Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst and chief executive John Mitchell.

After the meeting Mr Lewis said he had been impressed at how the council had gone from being close to bankruptcy in 2007 to now being regarded as one of the best run local authorities in the country.

“What’s impressive here is that Uttlesford hasn’t been spending its time worrying about what it should and shouldn’t do – it’s just got on and done the job and turned the finances around,” he said.

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“The council here has cut the Council Tax for the coming year, rebuilt its services and is building new houses – it’s a great example to other councils of what can be done.”

Cllr Ketteridge said: “The key to our success has been the culture that we have put in place here in Uttlesford.

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“We have a team of people here at the council who are not only constantly looking at ways that we can improve our services but also at how we can cut our costs.”

The authority has agreed to lower Council Tax for Uttlesford residents by 1 per cent in 2013/14 and also set aside £716,000 of extra funding for the voluntary sector and other services.

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