Rutland County Council leader encouraged by response to Future Rutland Conversation
We’re now half way through the Future Rutland Conversation and I’ve been hugely encouraged by the response so far, writes Rutland County Council leader Oliver Hemsley (Con) in his regular column.
If you’re one of the many people who’ve joined the conversation then thank you. We face an increasingly uncertain future so it’s important that any long term plans for our county are well thought through and shaped by those who live and work here.
Of the many ways to take part in Future Rutland, one of the most insightful has been our series of live discussion events. This is where small groups of residents are meeting to talk candidly about Rutland, their lives and what they want from the future. In these discussion events, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing from young families, working age professionals, retirees, people who’ve moved to Rutland from other areas and those who’ve lived here forever.
Regardless of age or background, almost everyone has spoken about their love of Rutland’s rural landscape and an appreciation for our close-knit communities, where people enjoy a strong sense of familiarity and friendliness. Where views have differed, people have shown a healthy respect for each other, as well as a willingness to listen and take on board what others are saying. Ultimately, we all want a happy, prosperous and sustainable Rutland, even if there are different views on how to achieve this.
There are still lots more discussion events to come as part of Future Rutland and I would encourage everyone to take part – either online at www.rutland.gov.uk/futurerutland or by calling: 01572 722 77, if you can’t access the internet. In the coming weeks, we’ll be talking more about life in Rutland, health and wellbeing, learning and skills, public services and how the council spends money.
When we talk about an uncertain future this is due in no small part to the effects of Covid-19 and the impact it’s having on councils around the country. The latest local government settlement has also dealt councils a terrible hand and left Rutland with a £2.6m hole in its budget this year.
As we come out of the pandemic and plot a course ahead, there will undoubtedly be some difficult decisions to make.
We are already working hard to balance our budget, due to the huge financial pressure we’re under. When councillors voted in February to use £2.4m of reserves to make up for a lack of government funding, they did this to stop the financial burden being passed onto local taxpayers.
For this to be sustainable, even in the short term, we must now find in-year savings of at least £1million over the next 12 months. This is being done through administrative savings and a small number of revisions to the council offer. The intention is that by reducing discretionary spending where possible we can protect core services for residents and work with you to revise our long term spending plans.