Council's budget proposals include closing tips and increasing new garden waste collection charge

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Cheshire East Council is inviting views from residents, businesses, councillors, staff, town and parish councils and local community groups on how it can balance its budget for 2024 to 2025, including looking at the proposals the council is putting forward this year to help achieve that.

As part of its financial plans for 2024/25 Cheshire East Council is proposing to increase Council Tax by 4.99%, the maximum amount currently allowed from April 2024.

In addition, the council has put forward 29 proposals as part of this consultation, which could help the council to reduce its financial pressures for 2024/25.

The largest savings of £5.6 million are proposed in adult social care and £5.2m in child social care.

A total of £4.8 million of savings have been forward in corporate service. Proposals include: temporarily leaving senior leadership posts vacant, reviewing executive support for senior staff, reducing the amount of money spent on emergency help for vulnerable people by closing the Emergency Assistance scheme, charging Parishes for all Parish related election costs, eliminating the use of agency staff and reducing overtime.

Proposals to save £4 million from services overseen by the Environment and Communities Committee include: getting Town and Parish Councils to contribute towards the cost of running libraries and closing the three household waste sites at Bollington, Middlewich and Poynton - leaving just four sites at Alsager, Crewe, Knutsford and Macclesfield.

The Council is also proposing to Increase the new garden waste charge for 2025 collections from £56 to £59.

Whilst in order to save £0.9 million in highways and transport, the council is proposing to introduce an annual increase in car parking charges and revise its maintenance practices in winter service, grass cutting, gully emptying and weed treatment, along with repairs to carriageways, footways and highway structures.

Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council said: "No one comes into public service to significantly cut the services that local residents rely on, but we must be realistic and make responsible decisions about prioritising our spend with limited resources.

"We must put supporting the people who need our help the most, ahead of many other things we would like to do - and that many people want us to do - including further investment in road maintenance, local recycling centres, libraries and leisure services.

"Cheshire East Council is far from alone in this. Councils across the country are making severe cuts to services and making clear to government that the current financial position is not sustainable."

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of the council added, "It is so important for everyone to have their say. If you have never commented in a council consultation before, now is the time to do so. A number of these proposals will affect everyone – either directly or indirectly - and some of these changes are significant. We need to know how they might affect you and the people you care about.

"We, your local councillors, are going to have to make difficult decisions to enable us to balance our budget. However, these budget pressures do force us to look at doing things differently and identify opportunities for improvement and efficiencies.

"It is deeply concerning how challenging the year ahead will be for all local authorities, including Cheshire East."

To have your say on the proposals complete the online consultation by January 28thPaper copies will also be available at local libraries.

Following publication of the draft financial strategy, the council’s service committees will consider the budget proposals at public meetings in January and February.

The decision to approve and adopt the budget will be taken at a full council meeting on 27th February.

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

John Duckworth
Wednesday 10th January 2024 at 3:21 pm
Fully expected increase in garden waste collections only started this month
The council is in debt because of bad management by the Labour/Independent run council you get what you vote for
Closing tips will encourage fly tipping
Don’t blame cancelling H2 train expansion shouldn’t have spent any money on relation to this
I have not seen any improvement whatsoever in thie Cheshire East Council
Things were much better when in Wilmslow the council was in Macclesfield
Unnecessary signs for example a sign at the lay-bys at the Kings Arms roundabout advising people it’s no longer a bus stop people have the message by now of course you are allowing all day parking it’s still there dispite requesting its removal to Wilmslow Town Council
Pot holes building work causing damage to roads
. Block paving in a bad state Grove Avenue onto Grove Street ROW said they would be attending to this oh they did a little tarmacking a small section
Of course councillor Goldsmith was proud of having double yellow lines repainted opposite Flanagans barbers
Stop blaming the Government it’s about time you blamed yourselves in 8 years what have you achieved for Wilmslow of any significance? I’ll tell you nothing !!!
Nigel Halford
Wednesday 10th January 2024 at 5:02 pm
Well is anyone surprised by this declaration? Before the Council have even collected my green bin once in 2024 they declare they are going to increase the charge in 2025. It shows that they have no idea how to manage our public finances.

If applying a green bin charge was the most imaginative way they could find to make up a shortfall in their budget it shows their mindset is focused on finding more money first before attempting to make savings. The public have enough stresses caused by politicians and their dreamy ideas for the future that cost us money today to be able to dig deeper into our limited pockets to fund your failures.

The typical comment we hear from Labour be it Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham or Cheshire East is, The Government is to blame or we don’t get enough money. Never taking responsibility for their own failures to manage the huge amounts of revenue they have with the expenses they incur.

During hard times I can’t just ask for more money ( like so many others do) I have to manage within a fixed income reducing my consumption to reduce my costs. I have to change my habits and be dynamic in my shopping habits to be able to maintain a reasonable standard of living. I don’t have others to fall back on or a system that would support me.

My question to the Council is show me where you are first, cutting back on your spend, finding ways to be more competitive and efficient in your actions before you come and force me to pay more money to cover your failings.

I could sit here and write all night long about the waist of public funds I see daily. Our infrastructure being degraded by Construction companies going about their profitable work causing damage to our public roads which the council tax payers have to pay to fix!

The Council sending out work crews multiple times to fix the same road problem which after 5 separate attempts is still not rectified. Each visit I am sure costing thousands of pounds. That same inefficient process will be replicated hundreds of times across the region.

A few weeks before Xmas a well known local builder had cause to dig up a brand new road laid by another well known housing developer to connect electrical lines. This caused untold cost to local business as well as frustration to road users with the road closed for weeks.

This particular road used to flood during heavy rain for many years however when the new road was laid 3 years ago we had no flooding. Now since the works carried out in December the road has now flooded again in the last few weeks clearly an issue caused by the builder digging up the road. So now the Council tax payers will have to rectify this potential flooding issue should the Council themselves dream it warranted. If not we will just have to manage with a flooded road.

I pay £300 a month council tax plus £56 a year now for green bin. So you are telling me you can’t find £2 a month savings from my £300 each month so I don’t have to pay for a green bin?

You need to really look at your working practices, services facilities and staffing and ensure you have become as efficient as possible before asking me for more money.

There are too many people milking the system, working from home spending their days walking the dog, doing their house work going shopping adding to the inefficiencies and costs of the Council.

100’s of new houses built around me adding thousands each month to your coffers have only brought degraded environment, loss of nature, loss of quality of life and you want me to give you more of my hard earned and limited money. No Chance! Get your act together Cheshire East Council or move aside.
Vince Chadwick
Wednesday 10th January 2024 at 8:27 pm
The council is in debt for the same reason councils throughout the land are in debt. It is NOT just a local problem. Tory austerity cuts on public spending year on year since 2010 are now reaching unsustainable levels.

The solution is to reverse them.

They are also the reason the NHS is on its knees, our roads are 3rd world, and much else. The money required to put all this right will far exceed what has been 'saved' by cutting budgets.

Remember this when you visit the ballot box hopefully in the fairly near future.
Roger Bagguley
Wednesday 10th January 2024 at 9:00 pm
John Duckworth peddling the current party line - this is all down to poorly led Labour/Independent Councils. He needs to remember that 8 years ago independent auditors found Conservative run Cheshire East Council to be one of the worst councils in the country. Also, it would help today if the previous administration had not run down what had been healthy reserves.

At RoW we are working hard to rectify mistakes made in the past and to bring new life into Wilmslow.
Pete Wright
Wednesday 10th January 2024 at 9:36 pm
Yes councils across the country are making cuts but it's largely due them relying on cheap borrowing to balance the books in past years. They clearly thought cheap debt would last for ever, rather than considering what might happen if/when interest rates increased as they have. And as ever it's residents who are expected to pick up the bill. The planned annual rise in parking charges will have only one result, businesses and shops will struggle even more and some will go bust. Epic short-sightedness
Nick Jones
Thursday 11th January 2024 at 12:40 pm
Some valid points above… ‘Responsibility’ being most significant ... Whilst the proposals for cost savings are welcomed its against a backdrop that tax payers getting significantly LESS for MORE … CEC reported £18M in the hole and The 8th anointed COO in past decade (Mr Pocklinghorne) taken on for undisclosed fee, (Cllrs wanted IRO £200k+ package) Is this sustainable in current climate?... CEC has background of historic fiscal failings .. yet has gone on to spend £2 million hard reserves on failed HS2 alongside £8.6million from borrowing ... What were the mile markers/ guarantees made to permit that fiscal arrangement if any ?... Central Government has reduced funding year to councils year on year across the board, political colours aside there will be no difference with any future change, But.. CEC needs to be more responsible with our taxes learning the lessons, not living beyond its means… Does it need 6500 Staff ?? (3500 directly employed and 3000 additional )... https://moderngov.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ecminutes/documents/s89719/Workforce%20Strategy%20-%20appendix.pdf
Does it Need 80 + Councillors??..or does this bifurcated small county need to rejoin with Cheshire West ( who are also in the hole) to remove duplication and cost ?... Having experienced the damage of austerity measures, the hard cuts outside tax rises, tip closures and green bin charges have yet to be made . As Sir Humphrey said …’Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity.’
Manuel Golding
Thursday 11th January 2024 at 2:41 pm
The former Conservative councilor John Duckworth's epistle is way off the reality mark.

CEC has only been under the control of the joint Labour/Independent group for just over 4 years.Prior to this the Conservatives were in total control for a number of years.RoW's genesis came about because the controlling Conservative administration would simply refuse to accept our modernising & alternate strategy for CEC. The current CEC situation has its historic birth many years ago & under the former Conservative total domination of CEC.

RoW 's 5 (independent) Wilmslow councilors have worked with the Labour party to offer the tax payers of the Borough a better, honest grouping.The severe financial current problem
are totally inherited from the previous Conservative administration.

Please Mr Duckworth place all & any blame if you must, at the door of those wholly responsible.
Ryan Dance
Thursday 11th January 2024 at 4:29 pm
Vince,

Do you have magic money tree? Or do you want to pay more taxes?

Perhaps the council can cut their cloth accordingly everyone else
Simon Worthington
Friday 12th January 2024 at 12:39 pm
While we continue with a regressive taxation policy (council tax) and continuing financial discrimination against single people we are expected to calmly take a 5% increase.
Perhaps instead of health advice (where is that expensive will’o’the wisp “Dr.” Matt?), nut zero nonsense and DIE perhaps we could hear more about the council’s stance, actions and intentions with regard the the 2007 UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples!
Vince Chadwick
Friday 12th January 2024 at 2:50 pm
Ryan - Do you want an NHS fit for purpose when you or your family need it? Or would you be happy with the USA model of private health insurance - if you are one of the fortunate ones with a money tree so you can pay the premiums, especially as you get older and those premiums rise?

Do you want to be able to use the roads without risking expensive damage to your car if you hit a pothole? Those who have a money tree presumably won't be so bothered by big repair bills.

Or we could do what civilised societies do - pay sufficient tax to provide fit-for-purpose public services for everyone, whether or not they have a money tree (but those that do have one will pay a lot more than those that don't, of course).
John Duckworth
Friday 12th January 2024 at 4:32 pm
Roger/Manuel

I may have been a Conservative Councillor many years ago before Cheshire East came into being, people views change over the years including mine. Roger to say I am peddling the party line is incorrect - you do not even know which party I support, particularly at this time, so please do not presume.

When ROW originally were voted in for, Wilmslow we all were aware of the problems that ROW promised to sort out yes promises - To fully understand my comments, the promises you made which ones have you fulfilled - as a resident I recall your party saying there would be no charge for the green bins for example.

You could have at least answered some of my questions in an adult way rather than "peddling your party line" as Roger said

The past is the past the Conservatives are long gone, who else should my comments be addressed to? ROW Councillors should stop coming up with excuses and blaming things that happened in the past ROW was voted in take responsibility. How much more time do you want in rectifying previous mistakes. People want to know these mistakes and which ones have been resolved.

Please leave politics out of this its unbecoming Manuel
Richard Mason
Saturday 13th January 2024 at 9:59 am
All interesting opinions being shared and in the interests of openess - I'm not affiliated to any party, I'm sceptical of the majority of those closely associated with any party.
For many years we have had Tory councillors or ex-councillors blaming Labour for poor management and blaming the Independants for being "Labour in disguise". The Independents blaming the Conservatives for poor management (both financial and people) and bemoaning the control of central government. Labour and Lib Dems seem to have vacated this corner of Cheshire - although Starmer does seem to be visiting the area a lot and I do worry that he may be Tony Bliar v2.
What we seem to be missing are some facts:
- What was the financial position of CEC when the power shifted 5 years ago?
- How has government funding to CEC changed over the past 5 years?
- Where does our council tax go, and what are the services that CEC is required to provide (ie can't cut)?
I know that this information is freely available if you have the time to look, but it seems that the majority of people don't want to look for it and would rather just make assumptions. For example the suggestion that having 80+ councillors is too many and costs too much - at c£12k each. I'm not convinced that cutting their numbers would do anything other than leave the public complaining that they can never get hold of their local councillor.
Vince Chadwick
Saturday 13th January 2024 at 10:17 am
As an indication that council budgets are in crisis everywhere, not just in Cheshire East, my brother lives in Monmouthshire and this has been posted on the Trellech ward Facebook page:
Vince Chadwick
Saturday 13th January 2024 at 5:53 pm
As an indication that council budgets are in crisis everywhere, not just in Cheshire East, my brother lives in Monmouthshire and this has been posted on the Trellech ward Facebook page:

Council Budget 2024-25

Monmouthshire County Council cabinet has just published its budget plans for the forthcoming year. A four week public consultation will be launched next week but the headline proposals are:

Council Tax increase of 7.5%
Cut of £835,000 to schools budgets
Doubling of the schools breakfast club charge to £2 per day
Reduction in subsidy for Gwent Music of £39,000 for music lessons in schools
Staffing review in adult social care to save £1.5million
Car parking charges to rise by 10% Planning fees to rise by 25%
Garden waste charge to rise by 10%
Food waste bags will no longer be provided Cuts to leisure centre opening hours
Close Tintern Old Station on Mondays
Cut budget for Gilwern Outdoor Education Centre by £70,000
10% increase in charges for concessionary school transport

One resident questioned why they need to look at adult social care as the care industry is in crisis as it is.

My brother replied:

"The reason they have to look at *everything* is Westminster government cuts in funding for public services.
Unfortunately it's exactly what people voted for".
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 17th January 2024 at 1:05 pm
The funding crisis across all UK councils is largely due to inflation. The rapid rise to 11.1% meant immediate cost increases swamped councils spending budgets.

Unlike businesses, councils couldn’t immediately hike their prices to offset the extra costs. Instead, they had to find immediate savings or use their financial reserves.
The government then capped council tax increases at 4.99%, which cemented this funding shortfall. For Cheshire East it was a £21m gap.

Unfortunately, Cheshire East reserves are the lowest in the country. They were a modest £20m in 2009, when the council was formed but a decade of Conservative administration reduced this to £10m (about 10 days spending cover).

The pandemic meant they could only be increased to £14.1m, which is enough to cover this years funding gap but not next years too. Therefore, we must balance the books through savings, cuts and increases, which this consultation paper sets out.

For every £1 Cheshire East currently spends, it goes on:

1. Social care services 68p
2. Waste management and street cleaning 13p
3. Education support like home to school transport 8p
4. Highways and public transport 5p
5. Museums, parks, libraries 3p
6. Homelessness and planning 2p
7. Licensing, elections, trading standards 1p

As you can see, the vast majority goes on social care, with elderly care the largest part. This was due to be reformed by central government, but they scrapped the idea in 2023. However, they did introduce the Fairer Funding initiative, which means individuals now pay the same care home fees as councils. Unfortunately, this also added £3m a year to council costs.

Cheshire East has 12% fewer staff than budgeted, which is reducing our spending but also limits further savings. Their pay scales, pension terms and wage increases are all set by national government though. This year the government gave them a 7% increase, while we just got to pay the bill. Central government seems very good at announcing new policies that local councils have to fund.

Cheshire East has a legal obligation to provide some services but not others. However, the ones the wider public uses the most (eg parks, car parks, libraries and even pothole repair), are NOT the ones legally protected. Therefore, it is inevitable that some cuts and charge increases will reluctantly fall on the areas the public most values.

In 2013 the government gave CEC £100m a year towards your Council Tax bill (about £575 per household). Today that is zero. Central government also sets Business Rates and keeps 70% of the amount it raises in Cheshire East. That’s another £70m a year they take (or £400 per household). Together, that’s almost half your council tax bill that you pay, while central government does not.

But it gets worse. Cheshire East must also pay Business Rates and Wilmslow’s four town centre car parks alone cost £154,000 in rates a year. The government keeps £114,000 of that tax, which makes providing free car parking unfeasible. Overall, we now pay the government far more than we receive from them. Their policy of “Levelling Up” the North West, seems to involve “Levelling Down” Cheshire East.

Responding to other comments, Cheshire East is not small, it is the 8th biggest council in the UK. The average number of residents per CE councillor is 4,000, a national figure set by the Electoral Commission. This ratio is the highest in Europe. The bigger councils get though, the less people feel connected to them and the lower the electoral turnout. There is no evidence bigger councils are more economical than smaller ones either.
.
With regards to John Duckworth and his comments, there seems to be two people of that name in Wilmslow. The one commenting here, who says he was a previous Conservative councillor and another John Duckworth who was a Conservative candidate in the May 2023 elections. The confusion seems inevitable.

Finally, I will leave it to you to decide if Cheshire East’s difficulty is due to its poor management or if macroeconomics and central government policy are responsible. However, this is an election year, so the ping-pong game of political point scoring is now well underway. It’s first casualty is likely to be the truth.

Thankfully, as an Independent councillor, I can largely ignore it all. Instead I will continue to focus on improving Wilmslow and trying to maintain the council services we all value.


Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow West & Chorley
Richard Mason
Thursday 18th January 2024 at 2:15 pm
Thank you @Mark - that's quite a comprehensive statement and I hope that it is seen by as many people as possible. Obviously there will be people who disagree or have differing views, but in the absence of any other councillor giving information I'm comfortable with this version of events.

I saw an article on the BBC site which listed councils most in debt and at risk of bancruptcy. Of the top 5 there was one Labour run, one Lib Dem run and 3 Conservative run - so I know it's a crude and limited pool but it does make me think that central government have a pretty big part to play in this rather than problems with managing finances at local level being a purely Labour or Independant issue.

My final point goes back to the first comment on this thread that challenges ROW on what they have achieved in 8 years? But CEC was Conservative controlled until 2019 so I guess that ROW had limited influence until then, Wilmslow Town Council was Conservative controlled until last year, so again not sure how much influence ROW would have. By my maths it makes it 5 years of potential influence - but would still be good to hear where they are at with progress on election promises.

As a final note - my voting habits / intentions at the next election - I've voted Conservative at the past elections (although independant in '97) and am really torn! I am concerned that Sir Starmer is a marginally less enigmatic version of Bliar and not confident in him in overall power; but the main alternative and our local MP appear to be a bunch of disorganised extremists.

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