Update on Lancaster City Council's Budget Meeting

13 March 2018



Budget meeting of the full City Council on 28 February did not see any of the Greens' 6 amendments adopted but Labour did make encouraging noises about the need to think about developing green building skills; and a project group - including Digital Lancaster, city council and Lancaster university - is reportedly forming around 'Gigabit city'. 

Regarding the former, see also, with excellent timing, the Observer business editorial today at:

Green Group amendments to the revenue budget were:

1.   Relief of extreme poverty (£20k)

Proposed by Cllr Hamilton-Cox

The Greens propose that the City Council should allocate £20k in the 2018-19 budget to fund vouchers for food and utilities through the local Citizen Advice Bureau offices in Lancaster and Morecambe, contingent on city council and CAB agreeing detailed criteria for their distribution.

Financed by removing the £20k for the review of the constitution. Review to be carried out by the next legal officer as part of their duties.

2.   Secondary Parks fund of £30,000.

Proposed by Cllr Barry

Williamson Park is in good condition and has good infrastructure. However, many other parks (e.g. Scotch Quarry, Quay Meadow, Greaves Park) are either in a poor condition in terms of infrastructure or receive little or no cleansing. This money could be used to improve the infrastructure of our parks (e.g. paths) and /or to improve their cleanliness.

Financed by reducing expenditure on Marketing from £75k to £45k.

3.   Additional support for Voluntary Sector organisations of £30k

Proposed by Cllr Novell

The City Council should increase its support to Voluntary Sector organisations dealing with the effects of Universal Credit. The organisations to benefit from this money should be decided after a report to cabinet.

Financed by Welfare Reforms Reserve (currently 93k)

Amendments 4 to 6 proposed by Cllr Hamilton-Cox

The money for amendments 4) to 6) will be sourced from the business rates retention reserve (£4.666m at 31-03-2018) and £200k transferred to a new 'localising the economy' reserve. This in turn will be the source for funding feasibility work - in partnership as described below - on programmes to develop sustainable building skills and Gigabit city.  The promotion of local procurement already has £20k earmarked but the reserve could be drawn on for this purpose too.

4.   Pump-priming sustainable homes skills development (£50k)

This proposal would need to be subject to a report to Full Council to develop the idea but need to have resources identified now. Can be about both design and build of new homes, and retro-fitting existing homes: latter is probably more important. The project would link in with Lancaster & Morecambe college and Lancaster University.

Why? Tackling fuel poverty and lower carbon emissions with better thermal comfort.

Abolition of Zero Carbon Homes initiative has left Councils with just building regulations with which to control new-build sustainability. But the greater problem is how to retro-fit the homes that we already have: affordably and to a guaranteed standard so that expenditure by the house-owner is de-risked.

This initiative would generate 'Green collar' job creation.

Able to use other councils as exemplars in promoting more sustainable new home building – Norwich, Cambridge.

Local FE college with construction skills development capacity. University with strong experience of more sustainable student accommodation and intellectual heft and commitment to environmental sustainability.

Local authority duty under 2008 Climate Change Act to reduce carbon emissions.

Why now? Local Plan development – currently all about numbers not build quality.
Local exemplar at Halton established as successfully sustainable.

Council as landowner in south Lancaster has opportunity to drive new-build sustainability.

Council as substantial landlord can drive retro-fitting; and potential builder of new council housing.

Able to use planning fee income increase to fund officer development to advise and guide.

Evidence just this week that climate change may not just be about the prospect of milder winters and sultrier summers.

Financed from ‘localising the economy’ reserve.

5.   Digital Lancaster

Identifying and helping to deliver office space requirements of growing digital businesses.

6.  Digital Lancaster - Gigabit city. 

Super fast broadband provision in urban areas, but especially for local digital businesses.

Financed from ‘localising the economy’ reserve



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