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February 2011

Council news archive - February 2011

District Council Announces Council Tax Freeze And Protects Key Front Line Services

Release Date: 28/02/2011

Craven District Council has announced a freeze on its Council Tax and the protection of key front line services despite being faced with a cut in Central Government funding of nearly £1m.
Members of Craven District Council last night (23 February) agreed to freeze Council Tax at 2010/11 levels and accept a compensatory grant of £85,000 from the Government - the equivalent to a 2.5% increase which ratepayers will not need to pay.
"This authority's financial situation has continued to improve over the past 12 months. Prudent financial management, a robust efficiency programme which has delivered over £2m in savings and sound forward planning have allowed us not only to freeze Council Tax, but enabled us to put money into our reserves and protect key services for our residents. This is despite a £1 million cut in Government funding - a real achievement," said Councillor Chris Knowles-Fitton, Leader of the Council.
"The reduced grant allocated to us has been a challenge and this has without doubt been the most difficult revenue budget that the Council has had to set for many years. At a time when household budgets are being squeezed further I am pleased that the District Council is able to set a budget which allows us to maintain services, freeze council tax and help residents in these hard times."
Council tax is divided between the District Council, North Yorkshire County Council, North Yorkshire Police Authority, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority and parish councils. This means that over all the owner of a Band D house will pay a total of £1,524.62 in council tax.
For each pound collected 69p goes to North Yorkshire County Council, 14p goes to the North Yorkshire Police Authority, 4p will go to the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority and 3p will go to town and parish councils. Only 10p in each pound goes to the District Council.
Council tax is collected by Craven District Council on behalf of the council, town and parish councils, the county council, the police and the fire and rescue authorities.

Referendum And District/Parish Council Elections

Release Date 22/02/2011

On 5th May this year, there will be a national Referendum on the voting system used at parliamentary elections.
You will be asked to vote Yes or No whether the 'alternative vote' system should be used in place of the present 'first past the post' system.
In addition, there will be local elections for District Wards and Parish Councils in some parts of Craven:
Craven District Council
Bentham Ward
Embsay-with-Eastby Ward
Gargrave and Malhamdale Ward
Glusburn Ward
Skipton North Ward
Skipton South Ward
Skipton East Ward
Skipton West Ward
Sutton-in-Craven Ward
West Craven Ward

Parish / Town Councils
Carleton-in-Craven Parish
Embsay-with-Eastby Parish
Skipton Parish
Sutton-in-Craven Parish
Thornton-in-Craven Parish

This presents a real opportunity for people to get involved in what is going on in their areas and to work with and for their communities. They can do this by standing for Craven District Council and / or their Parish Council. Anyone putting themselves forward as a candidate for a council election has to qualify. That means that on the day they are nominated they must be a least 18 years old and be a British citizen, or qualifying citizen of a Commonwealth country, or member state of the European Union. Also, they must meet one or more of the following:

  • be registered as a local government elector for the council they wish to stand; or
  • have been an owner or tenant of any land / premises in the council's area for the 12 months before the day they are nominated; or
  • have their main or only place of work for the last 12 months in the council area; or
  • have lived in the council area for the last 12 months.
For the parish / town councils, there is an additional qualification of have lived in the parish or within 4.8 kilometres of it for the last 12 months.
Anyone interested in becoming a District or Parish councillor (or both) may find the following websites useful - www.beacouncillor.org.uk. Those interested in becoming a Parish Councillor only - www.nalc.gov.uk (click on 'Become a Councillor' link). Or talk to one of your local parish councillors or the parish clerk about it.
Nomination packs for the District Council will be available from 7 March 2011 from the Elections Office, Craven District Council, Council Offices, Granville Street, Skipton, BD23 1PS, 01756 706241 or elections@cravendc.gov.uk. Parish Council nomination packs will be available from the above office and also from the local Parish Clerk.

Increase In Council Fees And Charges

Release Date: 22/02/2011
Members of Craven District Council's Policy Committee (15 Feb) have agreed to increase fees and charges for many services from 1 April 2011.
The Council's fees and charges are reviewed every year as part of the annual budget setting process.  The increases for 2011/12 have been approved in the context of a £920k reduction in central government funding as well as growing inflationary pressures.
 
The majority of increases will be at 5%.  Some services will not experience a change at all.  Where a relatively small number of increases exceed 5%, these higher levels will reflect both the additional cost of implementing the services and/or comparative charges with other similar authorities.
 
The revised fees will be applied to the following Council services from 1 April:
• Craven Pool & Fitness Centre
• bereavement services
• environmental health - including pest control, environmental health licensing
• tenancies, rentals and leases
• waste management - including bin replacements, trade waste collections
• Land charges
 
Members of the Policy Committee have already agreed to increase car parking charges and introduce fees for pre-planning application advice. 
 
Craven's Leader, Councillor Chris Knowles-Fitton, said:  "The current tough financial challenges which face all local authorities have made it necessary for us to increase the charges for many of our services.  We do this reluctantly but as fairly as possible in order to maintain services at an acceptable and realistic level.
 
For a full breakdown of the fees visit www.cravendc.gov.uk and search under 'fees and charges'.

Council Looks To Sell Settle Town Hall

Release Date: 15/02/2011
Ever rising maintenance costs and associated financial pressures have forced Craven District Council to examine the possibility of selling Settle Town Hall.
Ever rising maintenance costs and associated financial pressures have forced Craven District Council to examine the possibility of selling Settle Town Hall.
 
Members of the Council's Policy Committee (15 February) agreed to put the Grade II listed building on the market.  Any offer the Council receives will be considered by its Policy Committee before a sale is agreed.
 
Settle Town Hall costs the Council £38K to run each year.  Significant ongoing maintenance and major repair work is essential which would require huge capital sums which the Council simply doesn't have.  At present the Council's Tourist Information Centre (TIC), Customer Services, shops, offices and the County Council's youth service Cellar Project are all located within the Town Hall.
 
Leader of the Council, Councillor Chris Knowles-Fitton, said:  "The financial pressures we face make it impossible to maintain Settle Town Hall to an acceptable standard.  Nevertheless, we cannot allow this historic building to collapse around our ears and the best way of securing its future is to put it up for sale."
 
In the meantime, the Town Hall will continue to operate as usual.  The Council will also explore alternative venues for Settle TIC and its Customer Services. 
 
Council officers will now work with a property agent to market the building.

Council Revenue Budget 2011/12

17/02/2011
Craven District Council unveils its spending plans for 2011/12 in its Revenue Budget.
Front-line services will be protected as far as possible over the next two years and no service cuts are planned during the first year (2011/12) announces Craven District Council as it unveils its revenue budget for 2011/12 in the face of slashed Government funding.
 
Despite a £1 million drop in Government funding, the Council's spending plan for the next financial year confirms a 0% Council Tax increase, indicative savings of £600K and a significant contribution to its reserves.
 
The Council has announced a net revenue budget of £6.787 million for 2011/12 following a 15.2% funding cut from the Government.  Prudent financial management over the last two years will allow the authority to deliver a balanced budget in the next financial year without resorting to cuts in vital frontline services.
 
Leader of the Council, Councillor Chris Knowles-Fitton, said:  "These are tough times and this has been an exceptionally difficult budget to set.  The Council has done a remarkable job in presenting a balanced budget without making cuts in front line services.  It is quite an achievement to be able to put money into our reserves, and make savings in excess of £600K without increasing Council Tax for our residents.
 
"Because of the 15.2% drop in funding, we propose to save £1 million from the cost of delivering our services.  70% of these savings come from back office services.  This means that, during 2011/12, we can continue to protect front line services that are vital to our residents."
 
The Council has cut 9 management post from 16 to 7 over two years, saving £400K.  A substantial proportion of the savings will be made through more efficient service delivery, and in particular through improvements made to waste and recycling collections.
 
Councillor Knowles-Fitton continues: "From the outset, we had a clear remit to protect frontline services - areas that are a priority for our residents such as street cleansing and waste management.  The Council had long anticipated the likely implications of the Comprehensive Spending Review. It had already agreed the Concordat and was seeking to save money over the long term by sharing office accommodation with NYCC at Belle Vue Mills.  Such forward thinking has put us in a strong position to present a balanced budget for 2011/12."
 
The Council has recommended an indicative savings package of £635K for 2011/12 to address the future funding shortfall.   The Revenue Budget will be subject to confirmation at a Full Council meeting on 23 February.

Assessing Housing In North Yorkshire 

Release Date: 15/02/2011

Residents across North Yorkshire have only two weeks left to have their say on housing needs now and in the future.
A massive survey to assess housing needs across North Yorkshire sees all local housing authorities joining forces to create the biggest piece of housing research ever undertaken in the region.
The findings will support each authority's Local Development Framework - the development plan for each area used to guide future housing developments.
The survey which looks at all aspects of housing - including affordable housing, housing for older people and supported housing for vulnerable people as well as the 'open' housing market of homes for sale is totally confidential - and although it collects financial information, this information is used to gain a better understanding of housing issues affecting residents and will not identify individuals or households.
The survey has been sent to around 160,000 households across the county - every home in rural areas and a sample in the larger towns. Anyone - whether they have received a survey form or not - is encouraged to take part by using the open link to the online survey at: http://housingneedsurvey-nyshp.co.uk Surveys should be returned by February 28.

• The survey is being undertaken by Vison Twentyone, working alongside GVA on behalf of the district and borough councils of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Ryedale, Richmondshire, Scarborough, Selby and the City of York Council, together with North Yorkshire County Council, and the National Park Authorities in the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales.

Residents Invited To Help Shape New Council Website

Release Date: 07/02/2011
Craven District Council is inviting residents to have their say about a new website for the authority.
Two workshops are being held in Skipton and Settle for residents to say what they need from the Council website.  This could be anything from accessing services on line to what features would encourage residents to use the site more. 
 
The workshops will be held on:
• 17 February, 6pm Council Chamber, Granville Street, Skipton
• 3 March, 5:30pm ICT Suite, Settle College, Settle
 
The views gathered will help to shape the new site as well as the look and feel of the homepage. The meetings will take no more than an hour and refreshments will be provided.
 
Space is limited to 20 people per session so if you would like to take part please contact Holly Walker on 01756 706405 or hwalker@cravendc.gov.uk to book your slot. If you are unable to make the meeting but would like to send in some feedback please email Holly with your suggestions.

Audit Commission Approves Council's Accounts

Release Date: 08/02/2011

The Audit Commission has given a clean bill of health to Craven District Council's 2009/10 Statement of Accounts.
A district auditor from the Audit Commission has given the authority's financial statements for 2009/10 an unqualified opinion. This means that the auditor does not have any reservations about the accounts and confirms that the statements give a true and fair view of the Council's financial position at 31 March 2010. The Audit Commission has also confirmed that, except for the financial reporting element, the Council has adequate arrangements in place to secure value for money.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Chris Knowles-Fitton, said: "With all the hard work that has been put into improving the Council's financial position, it is extremely gratifying to receive approval from the Audit Commission.
"In these lean times it is essential that we can demonstrate good value for money for our customers, Craven's residents. Council staff should be applauded for the hard work they have put into improving our financial management. This places us in a good position to deal with the inevitable increasing pressures arising from next years cut in Government funding."
All recommendations that the Audit Commission have made are incorporated into an improvement action plan.

Council Presents 200th Good Hygiene Award

Release Date: 08/02/2011

The Youth Hostel at Ingleton has become the 200th food business to receive Craven District Council's Good Hygiene Award.
The Youth Hostel received the award from the Council's Environmental Health team for demonstrating a standard of food hygiene above the basic legal requirement.
The hostel provides hot evening meals and various breakfast options.
Councillor Paul Whitaker, Lead Member for the Environment at the Council, said: "Our Good Hygiene Award aims to improve public confidence and consumer choice in catering establishments across the district. Food businesses across Craven have responded very positively and I am delighted that now 200 businesses hold this award."
Mike Tracey, from Ingleton Youth Hostel, said: "I am delighted to receive this award from the Council's Environmental Health team. We work extremely hard each year to maintain and improve our food offering and the high standards of hygiene that our customers expect. Last year we looked after 8,500 school children. All went home happy full of good food with rosey cheeks from the Dales experience. It's an absolute delight to run Ingleton YHA and for our high hygiene standard to be recognized."
The Good Hygiene Award was introduced by Craven DC in 1999 as an incentive to encourage businesses to strive for high standards in food hygiene. Council food safety officers inspect premises on a regular basis. The standards are high and, in some cases, above those required by the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995. However, the Good Hygiene Award is intended to be issued only to proprietors who have reached high standards by treating food hygiene as an integral and vital part of the business.
Food Standards Agency (FSA) Food Hygiene Rating System
The Council is considering whether to adopt the agency's national Food Hygiene Rating System to replace its Good Hygiene Award.
Premises are given a star rating based on the level of food hygiene standards they reach. The ratings are then made available to consumers on the Food Standards Agency website and can be displayed in the premises, allowing customers to make a choice about the places they eat and buy food from.
The scheme is currently discretionary but may become mandatory in the future.

Roebuck Collection Recieves Funding

Release Date: 08/02/2011
Craven District Council's Craven Museum & Gallery has secured £3,000 of Pilgrim Trust funding to examine how best to preserve its Roebuck Collection. 
This generous grant from the Pilgrim Trust will be used by the Museum to assess what work is needed to preserve the collection for future public display.
 
At present only a small percentage of the collection's 141 pictures and single sculpture is in a satisfactory condition for public display.  By completing a Conservation Survey funded by this grant Museum staff will be able to seek expert advice on what is required  to repair and preserve the collection.
 
Lead Member for Culture at the District Council, Councillor Ken Hart, said: "This grant provides us with an invaluable opportunity to secure the Roebuck Collection's long term future so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come."
 
The collection was transferred into the permanent care of Craven District Council in 2006. Although some of its pictures have been exhibited at the museum, most have never been on display because of their poor condition. The survey, which will begin in April, will make clear the costs of restoring the collection. Once this has been established, staff hope to raise enough funds to have the repair work carried out.
 
Throughout the summer most of the artwork will be on display at the Museum in an exhibition called Articulate.  Visitors will be able to see the pictures before the conservation work is started and learn how individual picture restoration will be carried out.
 
It is hoped that visitors to the exhibition will help staff choose the most popular pieces that will eventually go into a travelling exhibition for the district.
 
ENDS
 
Notes to editors
 
About the Roebuck collection
In 1988 Clement Roebuck bequeathed his personal art collection to the museum. Roebuck had an interest in art for most of his adult life. He did not consider himself to be an art expert but claimed to have an eye for pictures, particularly for the work of emerging artists. His intuitive approach resulted in this individual and varied collection.  Pieces in his collection were purchased mainly from London galleries or from the artists themselves, and his varied choices show an instinctive approach to the visual arts rather than a focused or directed one.
 
Influential British artists are represented: John Piper, Carel Weight, Sir Matthew Smith, John Nash, James Sant, Edward Seago, Walter Sickert, Christopher Wood and Graham Sutherland.   Important modern continental artists are included, such as: Maurice Utrillo, Jacob Pierneef and Martin Bloch. There are also works attributed to the 18th century Venetian Italian masters, Michele Marieschi and Francesco Guardi.
 
About the Pilgrim Trust
For nearly eight decades the Pilgrim Trust has been giving grants to charitable organisations operating in the heritage and social welfare arenas in Britain. Its aim is to preserve and promote Britain's historical and intellectual assets and to provide assistance to vulnerable members of society. The Trust does this by supporting projects where funds will make the greatest impact. The Trust is also interested in projects where charities are having difficulty in raising funds from other sources.

Expressions Of Interest Invited For Skipton Town Hall

Release Date: 09/02/2011

Craven District Council is inviting trusts, voluntary and community sector organisations to submit expressions of interest for the management of Skipton Town Hall.
There are options to include management of Craven Museum & Gallery, Skipton Tourist Information Centre and 17 High Street.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Chris Knowles-Fitton, said: "This is a unique opportunity to re-invigorate a valued community facility and to create a vibrant, dynamic and commercially viable building. Transferring the management of the Town Hall is the best way to secure a viable future for the building and to get it the investment it needs. At the same time residents can rest assured that we are committed to ensuring that Skipton Town Hall remains available for community use."
On 8 December 2010, Members of the Council's Policy Committee agreed to transfer Skipton Town Hall to a Trust or a similar organisation in order to preserve the future of the building. A Skipton Town Hall Task and Finish Sub-Committee was established and met to develop the expression of interest document.
The document details information about the current arrangements of the Town Hall and the additional options. The document will be sent to known interested organisations. It can be downloaded from the Council's website (www.cravendc.gov.uk) or requested from Rachel Wallbank 01756 706439 or rwallbank@cravendc.gov.uk.
The closing date for submissions is 11 March 2011.
Once the expressions of interest are received they will be reviewed by the Skipton Town Hall Task and Finish Sub-Committee.

Craven DC Budget Meeting At Bentham Town

Release Date: 02/02/2011
Residents are invited to a meeting on 28 February at Bentham Town Hall (6pm) to discuss the outcome of Craven District Council's budget setting processes for 2011-12.
The meeting will include a brief presentation from a member of the Council's senior management team.  There will be a question and answer session to give you an opportunity to comment about the budget cuts. This is your chance to raise your concerns and put forward your ideas about how the budget cuts may affect you.
 
The Government is going to reduce local government grants by 7.1% for each of the next four years, an aggregate total of 28.4%.  This will require the District Council to find further savings of approximately £1.2 million to balance its budget over the next two years.  This must inevitably affect the way in which the Council manages its services in the future.
 
Please email any saving suggestions or comments to budget@cravendc.gov.uk or write to Budget Consultation at Craven District Council, FREEPOST (RRRX-FRJG-EABL), Council Offices, Granville Street, Skipton BD23 1PS.

Homeseekers Urged To Register On New Affordable Housing Scheme

Release Date: 01/02/2011
A project creating a new system for letting affordable homes across North Yorkshire is set to take a major step forward.
All housing applicants are to be asked to register with the new scheme to preserve their chances of getting a new home.
 
'North Yorkshire Homechoice' - the North Yorkshire Choice Based Lettings scheme - is currently being developed by local authorities and housing associations across the county. 

Due to go live in June, the new approach is based on the public advertising of available properties - from both Councils and Housing Associations.   It is designed to promote choice, mobility and better information about housing options for local people seeking accommodation. 
 
But project manager, Ian Taylor is urging applicants to make sure they register with NY Homechoice in good time to avoid losing out.
 
"This is a massive project, which will really help homeseekers across North Yorkshire," he said. 

"We'll shortly be contacting everyone currently registered on a Council or Housing Association 'waiting list' to ask them to register with the scheme, if they continue to seek housing in the area. 
 
"But there are timescales involved, and because the length of time you have been waiting for a new home matters under the new scheme, it is really important that people register in time."
Housing chiefs are to contact every housing applicant to explain the new scheme and ask people if they would like to register with it.  There are two ways to register - either by requesting and returning an application pack, or by registering on line at www.northyorkshirehomechoice.org.uk   Applicants will have 28 days to register with the new scheme - and reminders will be sent. 
 
Everyone who re registers within the timescale will have their original date of application carried forward to the new system, but people who do not wish to be considered for housing need not take any action. Help and advice for re-registering will be available from Council housing departments and landlords. Local advice and support agencies have also been briefed about this work. 

Housing staff are standing by to carry out the huge task of processing new applications. 
 
"There is help available for anyone who needs it," added Ian. "The most important thing is to get your application returned in good time, because those that do will keep their application date from when they originally applied, and that could mean extra priority under the scheme."

NOTES TO EDITORS
North Yorkshire Homechoice is a partnership between City of York Council, Craven, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough and Selby Councils, Broadacres, Yorkshire Coast Homes and Yorkshire Housing. 

The North Yorkshire Common Allocations Policy was adopted by partners in 2010 following large scale public consultation in Autumn 2009.  Choice Based Lettings is a means of allocating affordable housing based on the public advertising of available properties, and a system of bidding prioritised by criteria based on applicants' housing need, circumstances and length of wait.  It aims to promote customer choice, aid mobility and increase awareness of housing options.  The project benefits from financial support from Communities and Local Government.