Keeping costs low for Staffordshire residents

While there is never a quiet time as Leader of Staffordshire County Council, now is the time of year when the spotlight shines most brightly on our work.

Decisions have to be made about services and council tax levels for the coming financial year, making February an extremely busy month for the council’s Cabinet.

I am pleased to be able to tell you that after the lowest council tax rise ever last year at 1.9 per cent, your county council has set a zero per cent Council Tax rise for 2011/12.  We were the first large council in the country to commit to a Council Tax freeze and this has been made possible by strong financial management.

We are acutely aware that the global economic downturn has hit many people hard and we hope that we can do our bit to help families plan a stable financial future by keeping Council Tax as low as possible. Staffordshire’s county Council Tax is the third lowest in the country.

At the same time, everyone at the county council is working hard to ensure that services are continually improved.

I was delighted, therefore, that the Cabinet were able to bring forward plans for the Your Staffordshire card which allows all young people aged 19 and under to travel anywhere in the county on local buses for £1.

 We also agreed the over 60 concessionary fare scheme should be 24 hours, seven days a week in Staffordshire instead of just off peak times and to keep the subsidies on socially desirable routes. We are also keeping all of our libraries open and extending their opening hours with free internet access making them real community hubs.

 There has been much national debate about the Big Society. I am pleased to say that it is already alive and kicking in Staffordshire and Cabinet members were told of a great scheme in Marchington where residents have come together to help the community thrive by reopening a village shop.

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