I live at Monks Corner in Great Sampford. It has been a great privilege to represent Radwinter, Hempstead and Great and Little Sampford on Uttlesford District Council for the last three and a half years.
I am proud of what the Conservative Administration has achieved. Uttlesford continues to be the lowest cost district council in Essex and our record of holding or reducing the council tax bill in recent years is equivalent to a 14.5% reduction in real terms. I am committed to Uttlesford remaining a low-cost, high quality council.
Despite recent economic challenges, the Council has continued to deliver good quality services to the community. Thanks to all the hard work done by everyone, Uttlesford has one of the highest recycling rates in the country.
With our finances restored, Uttlesford has been getting on with some really important projects. It is one of only a small number of councils in the country that still owns and manages its council houses and this year we will invest £5m on repairs and maintenance to our council houses. Uttlesford is also one of only a handful still building council houses and this year will spend £3m on building new council houses. Working in partnership with your parish councils, I am pleased with the work that has been done to deliver more affordable housing for local people.
I recognise there is more to be done in this area.
As many of you will be aware, the district council plays an important role in the delivery of welfare benefits and services. I believe Uttlesford has responded to the significant changes in the way the welfare system works with compassion and care, whilst remembering always that everything we spend comes from you through your council tax bill and the other taxes you pay.
As a result of changes proposed by the Electoral Commission – which I very much support – the number of councillors at Uttlesford will be reduced at the next election. As a result, the current Sampfords Ward will increase in size and after May 2015 will also include the parish of Little Bardfield (which was previously part of the larger Thaxted Ward).
I am married and live with my wife, two grown up daughters and a young (and very naughty) terrier puppy. I am a hardworking, independent minded councillor, committed to serving my community and my neighbours. My work as a councillor has made me determined to do all I can to protect the rural character of this wonderful corner of Essex. It is an honour to serve you.
"However, we are determined to do everything we can to protect local services and to ensure that Uttlesford remains the lowest cost district council in Essex. I believe this budget for 2016-17 is one that maintains Uttlesford's reputation as a high quality, low tax council."
After the announcement in the Autumn Statement last week about local government funding, there remains considerable uncertainty about the future funding for councils. At this point we cannot determine what the local impact on Uttlesford District Council will be, which makes it difficult to plan for the future.The Council will continue to work hard to protect services, but we need to be realistic about the scale of the challenges we may find ourselves facing. In the meantime we continue to look at ways to keep costs down by improving what we do and how we do it.
Over 1,000 Uttlesford Residents responded to the recent consultation by the Council. Residents supported the continuation of the 12.5% working age Local Council Tax support into 2016/17. Uttlesford Conservatives will ensure that disabled people on a low income and carers on a low income are protected.
Cllr Simon Howell, Cabinet Member for Finance & Administration, said: "Uttlesford has consistently maintained the most generous council tax support package for working age recipients in Essex, and it is clear that residents are keen for this to continue for a further year."