Stroud District Council (SDC) is one of only 3 Labour-led councils in the South West (the other 2 being Bristol and Exeter). We have 18 Labour councillors in our group. We are in a co-operative arrangement with the 8 Green and 2 Lib Dem councillors to run the council. There are 23 Conservatives on the council and 1 independent Conservative. We were all elected in 2016, with the next elections due to take place in 2020. 9 out of 18 councillors are women and all the new Labour councillors elected in 2016 were women.
Notable achievements include -
· Highest ever public and business satisfaction with the Council (80% and 70% respectively)
· Resident and business rating for value for money, efficiency and service standards at best ever
· Council house building programme delivering to timetable and budget (236 homes at cost of £19m over 5 years)
· House building and commercial development rates being sustained
· Council seen as an effective and valued partner in economic development and regeneration by local companies, investors, business organisations and GFirst LEP
· Carbon management programme delivered – our council was first in Europe to be ‘carbon neutral’
· Membership at our leisure centres in Stroud and Dursley at record levels (good for health and well being, good for income!)
· New ‘invest to earn’ capital investment completed at The Pulse, Dursley and underway at Littlecombe
· Gloucestershire’s only council to have a local plan adopted under the National Planning Policy Framework and the first Community Infrastructure Levy scheme in the county – shortlisted for national award
· Successful management of the single largest regeneration site in Gloucestershire (council owned site at Littlecombe)
· Award winning canal regeneration project with high levels of public support, over £113m private investment and, in three years alone, 48,000 hours of volunteer work
· Substantial reduction in waste to landfill – already half the countywide target for 2020 – and a substantial increase in recycling (the success of which has brought issues and increased cost)
· Admired and highly commended rural sustainable drainage scheme in the Stroud Valleys – one of only two UK projects sponsored by the Environment Agency – CPRE award
· Successful work on education-business links and skills (Stroud Ambitions, Employability Charter and support for Festomane)
· Substantial chunk of LEP Growth Deal 1 and 2 funding for infrastructure projects in the district
· Continuing high quality services – accreditation such as EMAS and Green Flag
· 7th best council tax collection rate in UK and best in Gloucestershire, improved position re business rates (up from 207 to 87)
· Top quartile performance for homeless prevention
· Stroud District Council is the only district in the county which operates a Youth Council. This consists of elected members from secondary schools and the local 6 area Youth Forums. The district council has a Youth Work Strategy and has committed funding until at least 2020
Our ambitious capital programme includes supporting more affordable homes in the district, cycling and walking provision, support for our village and town centres, completing the award winning canal project so it links with national network at Saul.
However, like other councils, we face huge pressure on our finances. We will be the first authority in Gloucestershire to lose all the grant we receive from the government. In 2019/20 the district’s council taxpayers will be paying £549,000 to the government; something I have never come across in local government. This will be the largest sum paid by any Gloucestershire council and marks a new relationship between central and local government. Effectively, we have to become a ‘self financing’ council. If we don’t take action we could face a £3million hole in our finances by 2021.