R4U restructure of Uttlesford District Council finances generates initial £2million of additional income to deliver on manifesto commitments

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) has announced that its manifesto promise to restructure Uttlesford District Council (UDC) finances is ahead of schedule and will generate additional income of several £millions to fund key programmes in this and subsequent financial years.

Neil Hargreaves (R4U) Neil Hargreaves (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Neil Hargreaves, who is the UDC portfolio holder for finance, said “R4U has a long term goal of making UDC financially self-sufficient to insulate from continued government cuts, without switching the tax burden onto local residents. Unfortunately when we took over leadership of UDC last year we inherited a £multi-million annual deficit in the council’s income left by the previous administration. We immediately embarked on a programme to increase income to ensure that no services would be cut.”

Cllr Hargreaves continued “We set up a cross-party Investment Board to oversee the quality and governance of the council’s commercial investments. These are all freehold land and buildings, with rental income from good quality tenants. We are pleased to say that UDC’s investment programme is now ahead of schedule. In fact the financial hole has been filled and UDC will generate an additional income of £2million this year, which will increase in subsequent years. It is forecast that by the end of this council term in 2023, UDC’s investment income will be equal to the total district council tax revenue of about £7million a year. This is a great result for taxpayers.”

John Lodge (R4U) John Lodge (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr John Lodge, Leader of Uttlesford District Council said “A number of councils are in significant financial trouble at the moment as they deal with Covid; but I’m very pleased to report that Uttlesford is in robust health and safe hands as we knuckle-down for the residents that elected us. Three years ago we fixed the finances at Saffron Walden Town Council, now we’ve done the same at UDC. The council’s financial and legal officer teams, and the Investment Board chaired by Cllr Neil Reeve, have done an outstanding job to turn it around in just over 12 months.”

Cllr Lodge concluded “The significant additional income will be used by UDC to accelerate a number of the programmes that residents elected us to deliver. These will be announced by UDC over the next few months. It will also create important cash reserves to buffer the council from the prolonged impacts of Covid. Residents can be assured that we are working hard to generate more value from their council taxes.”

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.

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