THE AMBITIONS, concerns and passions of people in Stanley are placed at the heart of the 2020/21 budget, agreed this week [21 January] by the Town Council.
Councillors threw their weight behind the 2020/21 Budget, which includes a plan to carry out the most thorough consultation exercise ever carried out in the town and its surrounding areas.
“Three years ago, we made a pledge to the people of Stanley that their views would be listened to and acted upon,” said Council Leader, Les Timbey. “What we want to do now is take that even further – we want to engage with them directly and learn not only what we can deliver for them as a Town Council, but what changes people want to see beyond our remit.
“We want to know about their ambitions for the town, what makes residents concerned, we want their views about their children’s education, how care is provided…we want to create a Stanley Knowledge Bank and leverage the collective weight of the Council, councillors and officers to become agents for positive change, building on the success we have had over the last three years.”
Investment has been made available for a series of regeneration projects in and around Stanley, all of which will be included in a “Stanley Masterplan”, providing a blueprint for regeneration and development across the area.
Extra provision has also been made available for the voluntary sector, which is increasingly relied upon to bolster public service or, in some extreme cases, replace ones cut from public sector budgets.
The Town Council has also pledged to bring a Pantomime back to the Civic Hall in 2020, and has recruited a professional production team to stage the popular Christmas curtain raiser.
Among other projects approved is continued support for the popular “Play in the Park” events for children and parents during the summer holidays, Stanley’s spectacular annual fireworks extravaganza and continued investment in the community wardens and environmental caretakers service.
The Council is also continuing with the Stanley Fund, that has delivered thousands of pounds of grant support to Stanley groups and organisations, since it launched last year.
Cllr Timbey explained how the new budget was once again designed to protect the most vulnerable, enhance the town’s offer, but most of all put Stanley residents at the heart of decision-making.
“Every pound and penny we spend is done so with the sole intention of making things better for our residents, communities and businesses,” said Cllr Timbey.
“We keep getting told by Government that its cruel and unrelenting austerity measures are over, but they are still being felt in Stanley and across County Durham.
“This Budget shows that Stanley Town Council will continue to back projects that have a significant impact on the lives of people in the Stanley area. Our focus remains on enhancing the environment, improving safety, supporting community projects and, once again, asking people what they want to see in Stanley and working with our partners to make sure the projects are delivered.”
The Council has been forced to increase its precept by 2.99% from the 2019/20 Budget to keep in step with inflation.
“Any rise in taxation is not something we take lightly,” added Cllr Timbey, “but we are confident what is a relatively small increase will deliver huge benefits for the community”
Deputy Leader, Cllr Mark Davinson, said: “I am proud of what this Council has achieved over the past three years and I wholeheartedly believe this Budget empowers us to build on the progress we’ve already made.
“While great strides have been made in public engagement, we expect the forthcoming consultation exercise to once again deliver some real key priorities for us to act upon.”