Archive for the ‘South Gloucestershire Council’ Category

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

South Glos council tax to rise by 4.99 percent

Posted on Monday 13th March 2017 at 8:20 pm by SH (Editor)

South Gloucestershire Council.

South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) element of the council tax levied on local residents is to increase by 4.99 percent from April and looks set to be followed by a similar above-inflation rise in 2018/19.

Meeting on 15th February, councillors agreed to set a revenue budget of £193.25 million, with the increase in the council-controlled element of council tax being made up of a 1.99 percent general increase plus a further 3 percent specifically ring fenced to adult social care to help meet the demographic and other service pressures.

A council spokesperson said the increase is designed to help protect council services as funding from central government is reduced. It means that the average charge for a Band D property for the SGC element of the total council tax bill will rise to £1,359.

Public consultation carried out by the council prior to the budget-setting process showed that 45 percent of respondents were in favour of a council tax rise for 2017/18 of 2 percent or more (inclusive of the adult social care element).

Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Councillor Matthew Riddle, said:

“As a council we are focussed on delivering services to meet the needs and priorities of all our residents and local businesses. I am pleased to say that we will continue to do that with this year’s budget.”

“While finances remain tight and we continue to look for ways to do everything we can as efficiently as we can, I am pleased that we are also able to invest and build for the future, particularly in school and transport infrastructure projects.”

“The council delivers a huge range of services to our whole community and while we are always under pressure to be ever more efficient, where savings have to be made, the priority remains to protect front line services wherever possible. Thanks to the continued and dedicated efforts of our staff, I believe that we are well placed to meet future challenges.”

More: Council faces a £9.2 million black hole, warns Labour leader »

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Second consultation on library service cuts

Posted on Wednesday 30th November 2016 at 8:00 pm by SH (Editor)

Bradley Stoke Library (temporary entrance during redevelopment work in 2016).

Residents of South Gloucestershire are being encouraged to take part in a second round of consultation on the future of library services in the area after the local authority backtracked on it original plans to close a number of libraries or severely restrict their opening hours.

The council’s revised plan, which sees the targeted savings scaled back by 23 percent, centres around the introduction of new technology which would allow people to use libraries even when there are no staff on duty.

At the heart of the new proposals is a reduced savings target, reduced from £650,000 to £500,000, from an annual budget of £2.6million. This means that staffed hours would not be reduced by as much as previously anticipated.

The plans also propose introducing an ‘open access’ technology that would mean extended opening hours for libraries when no staff are on duty, potentially from 8.30am to 7.30pm, 7 days a week. This would be an extension of opening hours of up to 100 per cent over current hours and could make libraries much more accessible to people who cannot normally get to them during current opening times. Investment in this new technology would incur one-off costs of up to £400,000.

It is also proposed that the mobile library service be replaced with community centre-based libraries across South Gloucestershire, run by volunteer groups. The Council would also fund the building costs of Chipping Sodbury Library with the service being delivered by volunteers. These plans would mean that no library building would have to close as a result of the savings.

Views are sought on each of these proposals as well as peoples’ preferences for patterns of staffed opening hours. The preferred plans see libraries grouped into geographical ‘clusters’ with the aim of ensuring that there is a staffed library open six days a week (Monday to Saturday) within each cluster. No libraries would be staffed on a Sunday.

Locally, Bradley Stoke Library would form a cluster with the libraries in Patchway and Filton. Staffed hours would amount to 35 hours per week at Bradley Stoke (currently 45.5), 24 hours per week at Patchway (33.5) and 26 hours at Filton (41.5).

While the consultation process is under way, the council will also be conducting a pilot of a form of open access technology, called Open Plus, at Bradley Stoke Library.

More: Consultation is open until 2nd January 2017 »

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Council backtracks on proposed library cuts

Posted on Monday 17th October 2016 at 10:50 pm by SH (Editor)

Bradley Stoke Library (temporary entrance during redevelopment work in 2016).

South Gloucestershire Council has backtracked on controversial plans to close or severely restrict opening hours at many of its libraries after thousands of people voiced opposition to a range of cost-cutting options outlined in a recent public consultation.

Instead, councillors have voted to investigate the use of a new technology, known as ‘Open Plus’, which it is claimed allows users to access the full range of library services without the need for staffing. This technology includes access using pre-approved library cards, and the use of CCTV for security and the identification and management of problems. Users are able to issue and discharge stock themselves, using existing self-service facilities, and access IT facilities.

The new technology would allow registered members to use library facilities for 11 hours a day, seven days a week, between 9am and 8pm.

It had already been decided that Bradley Stoke Library would utilise Open Plus technology, and this is currently in the process of being installed, in parallel with the leisure centre redevelopment. The council now says it will use the Bradley Stoke site as a “pilot”, to help identify how the new technology could be rolled out across South Gloucestershire.

If the decision is made to implement the Open Plus solution, it would require the council to make a one-off capital investment of up to £400,000.

The council’s Environment and Community Services (ECS) committee has also agreed to recommend a preferred option that would reduce the library service savings target from £650,000 to £500,000 (per annum, ongoing), which will help retain a higher level of staffed hours than had previously been envisaged. In the case of Bradley Stoke, these would reduce from the present 45.5 hours to 35 hours a week.

More: Further consultation to be launched on Open Plus approach »

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South Glos council tax to rise by 3.99 percent

Posted on Wednesday 23rd March 2016 at 10:41 pm by SH (Editor)

South Gloucestershire Council.

South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) element of the council tax levied on local residents is to increase by 3.99 percent from April and looks set to be followed by similar increases in each of the following three financial years.

Meeting on 17th February, councillors agreed to set a revenue budget of £185.2 million, with the increase in the council-controlled element of council tax being made up of a 1.99 percent general increase plus a further 2 percent specifically ring fenced to adult social care to help meet the demographic and other service pressures.

A council spokesperson said the increase is designed to help protect council services as funding from central government is reduced. It means that the average charge for a Band D property for the SGC element of the total council tax will rise to £1,295.

Public consultation carried out by the council prior to the budget-setting process showed that 68 percent of respondents were in favour of a council tax rise for 2016/17 of at least 2 percent.

More increases planned

A report presented to councillors showed indicative budget figures for 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 which assumed further increases in council tax of 3.99 percent in each of these years.

The agreed 2016/17 budget also includes details of an updated Council Savings Programme. Work to reduce ongoing council spending will have saved £56 million by the end of the current financial year and the new plans outlines a further £22 million of savings by 2019/20. These savings are needed to help the council deliver balanced budgets into the future as central government funding continues to be reduced.

The leader of council, Matthew Riddle, said:

“The budget the council has approved is a balance between the resources we have available and the services we provide as a council, which our residents and businesses rely upon.”

“This budget is a plan that we can deliver as a council and, where we need to make further savings, we will continue to consult with the community on potential changes.”

More: Total Bradley Stoke bill up 3.82 percent over last year »

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Council consults on proposed library cuts

Posted on Thursday 10th March 2016 at 8:54 pm by SH (Editor)

Bradley Stoke Library.

South Gloucestershire Council has opened a public consultation on proposed changes to its library service which could see opening hours at main libraries (such as Bradley Stoke and Patchway) cut by an average of eight hours per week and smaller branches (such as Filton) reduced to opening on just two days a week or being closed altogether.

As part of its agreed Savings Programme running until 2019/20, the council needs to save £640,000 from the budget for the service and has proposed options that involve reducing library opening hours, closing Chipping Sodbury Library and ending the mobile library service.

It is also suggested that external funding and volunteers could be used to minimise the impact of reduced staffing and opening hours.

The 12-week consultation process began on 22nd February, but the council has stated that no service changes will take effect until October 2017.

A council spokesperson said:

“The council’s aim is to work with community-based partners to ensure South Gloucestershire library services are sustainable for the long term, despite reduced funding from government. It is hoped that local groups, individuals and potentially town and parish councils will be able to make a valuable contribution to maintain library opening hours and support existing paid staff.”

More: Drop-in session on 12th March. MP pledges to fight cuts »

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