Council finances have been returned to “robust health”, says leader

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 November 2020

Councillor Neil Hargreaves. Picture: R4U

Councillor Neil Hargreaves. Picture: R4U

Residents For Uttlesford

Uttlesford District Council’s finances have been restructured and instead of being in the red, are now generating millions in additional income, Residents for Uttlesford has said.

Councillor John Lodge. Picture: R4UCouncillor John Lodge. Picture: R4U

Councillor Neil Hargreaves, UDC portfolio holder for finance, said this year’s additional income is £2m.

He said their goal is to make the council financially self-sufficient without switching the tax burden to local residents.

“Unfortunately, when we took over leadership of UDC last year we inherited a multi-million-pound annual deficit in the council’s income.

“We immediately embarked on a programme to increase income to ensure that no services would be cut.

“We set up a cross-party Investment Board to oversee the quality and governance of the council’s commercial investments.

“These are all freehold land and buildings, with rental income from good quality tenants.

“We are pleased to say that UDC’s investment programme is now ahead of schedule. In fact the financial hole has been filled and UDC will generate an additional income of £2m this year, which will increase in subsequent years.

“It is forecast that by the end of this council term in 2023, UDC’s investment income will be equal to the total district council tax revenue of about £7million a year. This is a great result for taxpayers.”

Councillor John Lodge, Leader of Uttlesford District Council, said they had transformed the fortunes of UDC as they had done with Saffron Walden Town Council.

“A number of councils are in significant financial trouble at the moment as they deal with Covid but I’m very pleased to report that Uttlesford is in robust health.

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“The council’s financial and legal officer team, and the Investment Board chaired by Cllr Neil Reeve, have done an outstanding job to turn it around in just over 12 months.”

Cllr Lodge said the additional income would accelerate a number of the programmes and create important cash reserves to buffer the council from the prolonged impacts of Covid.

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