Gloucester City Council agrees budget for 2019/20
Gloucester City councillors have agreed a budget for 2019/20.
The budget totals £14.2 million and includes £250,000 of savings although no services for residents will be affected or staffing numbers reduced. Savings are due to be achieved through increased property income, accommodation savings from the move of city council staff to Shire Hall and energy efficiency measures.
The budget reflects the Council’s continuing commitment to undertake massive regeneration in the city with a capital programme expenditure of £9.720m, and provides £5 million for the planned revamp of Kings Square.
It was confirmed by Leader of the Council, Councillor Paul James, at the meeting that work is intended to start on Kings Square to start on site in the Autumn.
He also announced the appointment of Midas as preferred contractor for phase one of the improvement works for the nearby Kings Walk shopping centre with preparatory works scheduled for late Spring and confirmation of new tenants promised soon.
The Council’s investment in the shopping centre has also generated an increase in rental income that has allowed it to reduce the amount of savings it needs to make in the budget.
The budget also outlines the Council’s determination to tackle homelessness in the city and Councillor James told the meeting that the council was in advanced discussions about ‘making a significant amount of emergency accommodation available within a matter of months’ and that further measures would be taken, including using some of the Council’s own property portfolio.
And the focus on the importance of the city’s culture and heritage was also underlined with the announcement that charges at the Museum of Gloucester would be dropped from April 1, except for special exhibitions, and that the museum would also open on Mondays from that date. The move is a bid to make the museum more accessible to low income families and to encourage more visitors to the city to boost the local economy.
This year’s budget follows a public consultation which showed that the majority of residents were prepared to see a small increase to council tax in order to protect vital services, with a 2.99 per cent rise in council tax being approved.
Cllr Paul James, Leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “This budget sets the framework to make the Council fit for the 21st century. It will help us to deliver our priorities, furthering the regeneration of the city, supporting our communities and protecting the services that matter most to our residents”.