Critics must face facts
- Credit: Archant
A few of our serial critics have raised their heads above the parapet once again to try and put a dampener on our plans to relocate the council’s headquarters.
For the benefit of your readers I think I ought to differentiate the facts from their fiction.
To date, out of the £410,000 allocated to the relocation project, we’ve spent £365,000.
This includes £113,000 spent on the unsuccessful planning application for the development of Knowle. The reported spend to date of £800,000 on relocation is fantasy.
However, two further amounts of £200,000 – for 2014/15 and 2015/16 – have been in our capital programme for a few years now as a forward estimate of what we might need to allow if the project gets approval.
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It should be remembered that the costs of delivering the office move are factored into the overall budget of the project and offset against the projected capital receipts from land sales.
It is the council’s plan that the move to new offices will be achieved without any additional burden on council tax payers – who in the longer term will benefit from the savings to be made in maintenance and repair costs, reduced running expenses and a council performing better in a modern office environment. Staying at Knowle is not an option and has been ruled out unequivocally. It would cost £1.5million for essential repairs alone. Refurbishment would have cost around £15million.
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Against a background of continuing austerity and national funding cuts, the council is on course to approve its budget for 2014/15 on February 26 that results in another freeze on its council tax bills for the fourth consecutive year – and kept at the same level for the fifth year.
As well as the freeze on council tax, the council’s budget involves no cuts to the services East Devon residents value most – indeed, the council goes into the next financial year with a small surplus of around £70,000. Now if that isn’t prudent financial management I don’t know what is.
Let East Devon District Council members, elected by the residents of East Devon to best represent their best interests, take care of the finances – and in return we’ll do what we’ve been doing for many, many years – delivering value for money and outstanding services to our customers.
Let’s embrace the opportunity ahead and look forward to the decisions which will unfold later this month and in the summer for the betterment of the entire district.
Councillor Paul Diviani
Leader East Devon District Council