18th Feb, 2020

Review: 2017 for Redditch's local authorities marked by cuts in services and hikes in council tax

Ross Crawford 31st Dec, 2017

THE year for local authorities across the country has been marked by cuts in services and hikes in council tax.

At the town hall in Redditch the need to find £2.8million in savings over four years concentrated minds in the council chamber.

In February headline proposals included inviting a leisure trust to run services like the Palace Theatre, Abbey Stadium, community centres, Forge Mill Museum and Pitcheroak Golf Course which could not only save the council £400,000 but also provide an income for the authority.

In addition, the authority decided to surrender its interests in Arrow Valley and Kingsley sports centres bringing in a further £169,000 in savings.

By November the council had voted to push ahead with setting up a ‘local authority trading company’ also called a ‘Teckal’ which would allow it to retain a high degree of control over its leisure facilities.

Charges were also brought in for using the Shopmobility service, and a controversial ‘means test’ for pensioners using the swimming pool.

Meanwhile the failure to carry out annual gas safety checks on hundreds of council properties in Redditch led to Conservative calls for the resignation of Coun Mark Shurmer, whose portfolio covers housing.

It wasn’t the only scandal to hit the authority. In August a number of senior staff in the housing department were suspended pending an investigation into contracts said to be worth up to £7million.

In January Business Minister Margot James MP officially opened the new North Worcestershire Engineering Centre of Excellence in Redditch.

The authority was named ‘Council of the Year’ and highly commended its work to help people cut their home energy bills and solve their insulation issues.

STUDLEY county councillor Clive Rickhards was elected chairman of Warwickshire County Council.

ormer school teacher Clive, who represents the Liberal Democratic Party and is widely recognised as a hard working and popular councillor admitted he was ‘stunned’ by the announcement.

“It took me a few moments to take in what was being said, but it’s a huge honour for me and for Studley,” he said.

He wasn’t alone in being honoured as newly elected Conservative county councillor Brandon Clayton, a long serving borough councillor, was voted in as the new vice chairman of Worcestershire County Council.

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