Council houses, community safety and assuring our future: R4U led UDC approves 2020/21 budget to deliver on Residents’ Agenda

R4U led Uttlesford District Council has approved the 2020/21 council budget to deliver on the next phase of R4U’s ‘residents’ agenda’. The budget will see more council houses, a dedicated eco-budget, fixing of the planning system, and a greater focus on generating income to pay for it.

Neil Hargreaves (R4U) Neil Hargreaves (R4U)

Cllr Neil Hargreaves of R4U, the UDC Portfolio holder for finance, said “We have several objectives that we need to balance in the 2020/21 financial year. The first priority is rebuilding the council’s financial situation. The local Conservatives wasted £6millon of taxpayer money on 2 failed Local Plans. Additionally the government’s stealth austerity programme continues to slash council funding grants and will leave UDC £3.6 million short unless we take swift corrective action. We need to protect residents from this financial black hole.”

“Secondly we want to invest in our community right now. In the budget we have committed to building 50% more council housing than the previous administration, for those in need in our communities. We are also expanding our contribution towards local policing until central government make good on their promise to replace the Bobbies on the beat that they previously cut. Residents need a safe place to live and want to feel secure.”

“Finally we are looking after our district’s future. For the first time there is a dedicated eco-budget to start addressing climate change, which we’ll increase as finances allow. We are also investing in re-engineering the planning function at UDC to fix the years of neglect by the previous administration that has resulted in the decade long developer-free-for-all that has overrun our towns and villages.”

R4U’s Neil Hargreaves concluded “We believe it is unfair to put all of the financial burden on local taxpayers – residents have already paid enough for failures by the previous council. Because of this the average UDC tax increase for 2020/21 will only be £5 a year, which is 1.4p a day. This is a 10th of the £50 increase of ECC’s precept. Instead we are changing how the council invests to generate a greater, but low risk, income stream. The budget supports building a £300 million commercial investment portfolio to make the council financially self-sufficient and so immune from never-ending government cuts – something it has never been. Residents can be assured that we are working hard for them and their wallets.”

UDC collects council tax for district services as well as ECC, the Police and Fire services, and town/parish councils. More information about the 2020/21 council tax precepts can be found on this page on the UDC website.

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). It is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In 2017 it solidified its position with a further by-election gain with 60% of the vote. In the May 2019 Local Elections R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK.

R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.