If anyone tries to tell you that it’s unrealistic to fight the cuts being imposed by the conservatives on West Berkshire Council, here’s a little ammunition:
Eastleigh Borough Council has a £150m asset management plan which has enabled 13 years of real term cuts in council tax and NO CUTS TO FRONT LINE SERVICES.
Eastleigh Borough has a population of ~129,000 and the Council has been Lib Dem controlled since 1994.
Meanwhile, in West Berks, our Conservative Council over the past 9 years has sold off all kinds of assets, retained no interest in commercial developments and allowed major employers to leave our area. Result? We face many significant cuts.
Where is our Council’s foresight? Where is the planning? Where is the hard-headed determination to do the best for West Berks?
Regarding Eastleigh, the broadbrush headlines, which I guess is what you want, are that back during the financial crash, faced with the failing of a major local venue, Eastleigh Council didn’t kick Hampshire Cricket Club out (as WBC are doing currently with Newbury FC). Rather, the council stepped in as funder. They BOUGHT THE GROUND and leased it back. With a major Hilton Hotel, conference and banqueting facility and spa on site, plus an 18 hole golf course, they have ended up with:
* net income at maturity to council on roughly £35m investment of £1m each year
* 500 on and off site jobs for economy created
* annual local economic impact £50m
* venue saved and one of top wold cricket grounds created
In contrast to the above, when sitting on the Faraday Road site which included light industry, potential for housing and larger development, and a football ground – The conservative run council in West Berkshire Council sat on its hands.
I heard it personally from Gordon Lundie: WBC did not develop the Faraday Road Site earlier because of the financial crash.
What Eastleigh did in 2008 is a fantastic example of how a forward thinking council, that wants to invest in the local community and infrastructure, can make things work.
The Aegeas Bowl, as the development above is now called, is only part of the £150m asset management plan that Eastleigh Council have developed which has enabled 13 years of real term cuts in council tax and no front line service cuts.