Wokingham Borough Council consultation: street cleaning & grounds maintenance
Published on: 24 August, 2023
24 August 2023
Due to unprecedented financial pressures including the triple threat of high inflation, continuously low funding from central government and increasing needs in the community, Wokingham Borough Council will no longer be able to continue street cleaning and grounds maintenance services as they currently are.
The Council is grappling with the ongoing triple threat of high inflation, which leads to vastly increased costs, as well as growing needs among the community and a long history of inadequate funding from the Government.
With this in mind, it is launching a consultation on how it can make necessary savings in areas like street cleaning, grass cutting, litter bins and other services which will help it keep its finances stable and continue looking after those who rely on it most.
It was in light of these commitments that it introduced recent changes such as taping off some litter bins and cutting some grass less often, with further changes also planned.
However, it accepts that all the correct processes were not followed and is now taking this through the formal decision-making route.
This includes a public consultation, which is open until Sunday, 10 September.
Planning changes to minimise impact
The consultation includes about 150 litter bins that could be removed out of about 1,100 in the borough.
These bins have been chosen because the council believes their removal would have the least impact. However, the consultation will offer the chance to comment on the selection and suggest other bins that could be removed instead.
Other ideas include reducing the amount of weed spraying that is carried out, clearing up around bottle banks less often and spending less on town centre mechanical street sweeping. The council needs to save £600,000 over three years with the changes.
Grass cutting could be reduced from about six times a year to four for verges and smaller spaces, with grass kept appropriately short in play areas, sports pitches and where motorists need visibility.
The council proposes letting grass grow long in more places and cutting annually, which will provide habitats for local wildlife and help address the climate emergency. These changes would save a further £100,000 per year.
Under pressure from all angles
Wokingham Borough Council gets the least Government funding per resident of all unitary authorities in the country, an average of £30 million per year less than others, because it is seen as having low deprivation.
This means council tax payments make a proportionally higher contribution towards services than anywhere else. With running costs and capital project costs both rising, and council tax rates capped below inflation, the only option is finding savings.
The council has successfully lowered costs by almost £29 million over the past six years and shrunk its overall budget by 34 per cent in real terms since 2010/11, but the pressures continue to grow on many fronts including energy costs, significant inflation on contract costs and providing statutory care.
In other places where councils have effectively gone bankrupt, council tax has risen by up to 15 per cent with services stripped to the bare minimum.
Your chance to shape these services’ future
Please give your feedback by taking the survey HERE.
The survey is open until Sunday 10 September.
Please note that it will be easier to take this survey using a laptop or desktop computer. It can be taken on a mobile phone or tablet, but will be more difficult.
If you need help with the survey, please drop into one of Wokingham Borough Council’s libraries or call the customer services team on 0118 974 6000.
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