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New community investments unveiled in 2024/25 budget proposals

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A series of new projects and strategic investments have been unveiled by Stroud District Council as part of its proposed budget for 2024/25.

Included in the budget is money to help market towns and community groups, invest in play and leisure facilities, and improvement works around Stroud station.  

The budget reflects the Council’s strategic plan by investing in communities, the environment, and local economy. This includes £200,000 for a Market Towns Vitality Fund, £135,000 on a fundraising platform for community groups, and continued investment in council-owned play areas of £150,000 to build on the successful revamps of play spaces last year.  The proposed budget also sets out investment in the Council’s waste and recycling service with a switch away from diesel-powered refuse collection vehicles to a greener option, as well as projects to support community climate action and nature recovery.

Council Leader Catherine Braun said: “We recognise that the cost of living crisis continues to affect our local residents, so we propose to keep council tax increases to a minimum this year. This budget will allow us to maintain all current services and to invest in local communities, with our new Market Towns Vitality Fund. We will also continue to invest in building new and eco-efficient council homes, support the fantastic network of Community Hubs across the district, and prioritise local climate and nature recovery projects.”

The council’s draft budget will be discussed at the Strategy and Resources Committee on Thursday 1st February and would mean a Council Tax increase of 2.99%, which would result in an increase of just 13p per week for the average Band D household. The committee is being asked to recommend the increase to a Full Council meeting. It is also proposed that the Council Tax Support Scheme that exempts some of the poorest from paying any council tax will be maintained in full.

In response to calls from local business about the importance of parking provision, the budget proposes to freeze 85% of car parking charges in Stroud for the second year running, and to extend the current “Free after 3pm” offer, to “Free after 2pm” at the London Road car park and Brunel Mall multi-story car park in Stroud, as proposed by Stroud District Chamber of Trade and Stroud Town Council. A new digital sign to show the available spaces at the multi-story car park will also be installed along with secure cycle storage and bike parking spaces. At car parks across the district, EV charging points are being rolled out and two car parks in Stonehouse and Lower Stratford Park will be resurfaced.

For Stroud railway station, £200,000 is earmarked in the budget to acquire land which will provide pedestrian and cyclist access from the multi-story car park into the station, and for purchasing the historic Brunel-designed Goods Shed to secure the future of Stroud Valleys Artspace on this site.

Deputy Council Leader Natalie Bennett said: “We’re committed to supporting residents of all ages, with this budget continuing our recent investment in play areas, as well as leisure and wellbeing provision across the district, through the council’s services and leisure centres with the council taking on management of Stratford Park Leisure Centre later this year.  

“Maintenance of our current assets is also important, and I’m pleased that our budget will enable renovation of the Paganhill Anti-Slavery Arch and Stroud’s Cenotaph. For those who are struggling financially, they will continue to receive support with their council tax bill. Despite the financial challenges facing all local authorities, which have resulted in most of them reducing the help available, we remain committed to providing 100% council tax support.”

SDC’s services make up approximately 11% of the Council Tax bill, with the other elements being the services provided by Gloucestershire County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, and the Parish and Town Councils.

Stroud District Council and the district as a whole were recently rated well above the national average in the most recent independently conducted satisfaction survey of residents and businesses.

The council’s services include waste and recycling, planning, environmental health, parking, parks and recreation, leisure centres, The Museum in the Park, canal restoration, animal welfare, benefits administration and advice, elections, youth work, upkeep of open spaces including Selsley Common and Cam Peak and Long Down upkeep, plus licensing and flood management.

A recording of the meeting can be viewed online and the agenda papers are also on the council’s website.

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