Agenda item

Leader's report


The Leader provided a summary of the Council’s term in office.  He thanked all Councillors, in particular those who were stepping down and those who had passed away.


The Leader noted that in May 2019 a key priority was to rebuild relationships between Councillors and Council staff, and this has been a success.  The Council is strong with mutual respect and a focus on the local communities, and this is an achievement to be proud of.


The Leader reminded Members that in 2019, Council Tax was frozen for a band D Property at £150.69 and the Council’s revenue budget was £7.95million.  Unfortunately, predominantly because of inflation, the Revenue Budget this year is £9.7million, which is a 22% increase. The good news for Ribble Valley residents is that Council Tax in this term has only increased by 7%.  The Council has paid off it’s debts and none of the Ribble Valley Council tax payers are contributing to interest costs.  It was noted that the Council will earn over £570,000 in interest, which will help in supporting the revenue budget.


The Leader outlined that the Council faces real financial challenges, including:


·         income from the New Homes Bonus having reduced by over £1 million pounds per year since May 2019

·         huge inflationary pressures meaning that over the next 4 years the Council has a projected shortfall of over £9million.

The Leader has raised these with Michael Gove and Nigel Evans MP has invited the Secretary of State to the Ribble Valley to discuss these issues further.


The Leader noted that the Council has avoided a reorganisation of Local Government in Lancashire.  He re-iterated that Lancashire 2050 is so important because it delivers devolution whilst respecting the sovereignty of every existing Council in Lancashire. Over 10,000 people signed the petition “stop Blackburn with Darwen Council taking over the Ribble Valley” in 2020.


The Leader spoke of the difficulties experienced during the Covid pandemic, with particular reference and thanks to the bravery of the refuse collectors during this time.  It was noted that in October 2020, £50million was secured for Lancashire businesses in what became as the ARG Grant.  This was only one aspect of the many grants that the Council delivered for businesses processing over £35million of grants through approximately 7,000 applications.  It is important to remember the friends, family, colleagues and neighbours who were lost to Covid and for those who are still feeling the consequences.


The Leader then spoke of the cost of living crisis and the support funds that the Council made available to residents, which totalled £4.1million.


The Leader outlined there has been an improvement in rural policing, and with the election of the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, the Ribble Valley has started to see significant improvements with;

·         The reopening of the front desk at Clitheroe Police Station in 2021

·         From April 2023 the addition of four community beat managers, meaning that the Ribble Valley will have a dedicated neighbourhood police team

·         Clitheroe is also to become a response policing base

The Leader reminded Members that Ribble Valley Borough Council are working with the County Council to deliver up to £600,000 in investment in Castle Street, Clitheroe, and will contribute £300,000 from the UK shared prosperity fund.  The UK shared prosperity fund is already being invested in Longridge and in the next few years, the Ribble Valley will see significant capital investment including an additional £433,000 for villages in the form of the Rural England Prosperity Fund.  In total this will bring the capital investment to over £12million over the next 5 years.


The Leader confirmed that in 2019, the Office for National Statistics rated the Ribble Valley as the happiest place to live in England, and in 2021 it was the healthiest place to live in England.  The Ribble Valley has the lowest Council district tax in the North of England and residents are not charged for green waste.  The planning policies have delivered over 480 affordable homes over the last four years and over £1million has been spent on disabled facilities grants and grants to local sporting, voluntary and cultural organisations.


The Leader ended by stating that this Council could be proud of its record, proud of its governance and proud to be Conservative.