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Key targets identified for further savings

About £968,000 in savings have already been identified by Fenland District Council, delivering a balanced budget for the current financial year (2016/17). And now the council has given more details of where it is looking to make further savings .

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A detailed picture has emerged of the savings and extra income generation the council is considering in its bid to achieve the additional £2.2 million in savings required over the following three years.

It follows the comprehensive spending review (CSR) that was set in motion last year. The main projects to be examined in more detail were agreed at lengthy meetings of councillors last week.

Their proposals are estimated to provide about £1.6 million in savings over the next few years, leaving a shortfall of about £600,000 that will need to be found by 2020.

However, its calculations may have to change, depending on any further amendments that the Government may make in the financial provision for local authorities, including on matters such as business rates and the New Homes Bonus.

Council officers will now be asked to produce full business cases for all the areas identified by councillors as offering potential savings or providing extra income.

Key headlines include closing Community House in Wisbech if continued external funding cannot be secured, stopping the Youth District Council programme and ending the monthly Fenlander page in the Fenland Citizen.

The one-stop shops in March and Wisbech are also earmarked to become new community hubs similar to those already established in Chatteris and Whittlesey, with hours in the contact centre also being reduced.

Among other likely moves are phased reductions in the level of grants to bodies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, Young People March and local museums.

Key areas that need further detailed work from officers to develop full business cases include different ways of providing leisure facilities and managing the services provided by Wisbech Port.

Ideas for generating extra income include charging for collecting waste from residents' brown bins. But at last week's meeting councillors decided that it was unlikely that any car parking charges would be considered during the current administration.

Officers will also be asked to explore opportunities for more shared services along the lines already achieved with revenues and benefits and planning.

Council leader Councillor John Clark said: "We have made good progress and Members have given a clear steer on what they see as the best ways of achieving the necessary savings.

"The measures we have already taken mean that we are in a relatively good position for the next 12 months. That gives us time to develop other plans to ensure that we meet the overall £2.2 million target.

"However, a lot of work still needs to be done and inevitably it will take some time. Once our officers have worked up the full business cases for each of the selected areas, we will have a clearer idea where further savings can be made or extra income generated.

"That information will again be shared with all councillors. In due course we will also consult the public again on major proposals that will affect them directly."

Councillors confirmed their list of priorities last Thursday (January 14). They had previously indicated their preferences in the feedback they had given on the results of the public consultation carried out in September and October last year.

A second consultation is currently under way, seeking residents' views on the council's draft business plan and budget, which sets out its overall priorities for the next three years.

Here is the full list of proposed savings and income generators:

Offering grants funding and support to the community

-          Turn off some District street lights

-          Pursue sponsorship on street furniture

-          Phased reduction of SLA's (Service Level Agreements) for Community Grants

-          Stop the Youth District Council (YDC) programme

-          Close Community House and review Community Support Team

-          Deliver Golden Age programme differently

-          Scale back the Sports Development service and develop Service Level Agreements

-          Change the concurrent grant distribution model for town and parish funding

-          Reduce or remove Council Tax Support Scheme grant to towns and parishes

Collecting bins and recycling

-          Increase trade waste income

-          Investigate delivery models for the Environmental Services Vehicle Workshop

-          Develop a self-funding garden waste service

-          Develop a business case to look at the size of bins and the impact on recycling, as well as marketing recycling

Helping people to access the Council

-          Reduce call handling targets or services hours in the Contact Centre

-          Close the March and Wisbech shops and relocate to local libraries

Helping to ensure public safety and tackling anti-social behaviour

-          Explore Licensing shared service opportunities

-          Review the New Horizons bus (retain or sell)

-          Investigate shared service opportunities for Environmental Health

-          Reduce CCTV active monitoring hours and consider an alternative service delivery

-          Reduce fibre optic line rental costs for CCTV through reduction and/or upgrade of cameras

-          Increase income from businesses/properties covered by CCTV cameras

Helping people to access the benefits they are entitled to

-          Reduce the Council Tax Support Scheme to 20%

Providing Leisure Centres and swimming pools

-          Change the way that Leisure Centres are managed

Providing well maintained parks and open spaces

-          Review staffing levels for Open Spaces

-          Reduce costs associated with bedding plants

-          Cancel the Green Flag accreditation

Managing Wisbech Port, including its leisure mooring facilities

-          Increase wharfage fees

-          Outsource part of the service

-          Lease or sell quayside land

-          Pursue wind farm activity/income

Promoting Fenland as a tourism destination

-          Create a revenue stream from the Tourism website, or deliver savings by either ceasing, changing or scaling back the tourism service if a revenue stream is not achievable

Providing flexible and affordable business facilities

-          Dispose of underperforming light industrial units

Offering housing and accommodation advice

-          Investigate shared service opportunities for Private Sector Housing

-          Investigate shared service opportunities for Housing Options

-          Join the Cambs Home Improvement Agency Partnership

-          Investigate shared service opportunities for Housing Strategy

Tackling environmental issues

-          Work with another provide to deliver Streetscene enforcement

Managing and maintaining Council-owned cemeteries

-          Review staffing levels for the cemeteries service

Corporate Services

-          Smarter utilisation of office space and market spare desk capacity at Fenland Hall and The Base

-          Increase sewage treatment work charges from FDC sewage treatment works

-          Review civic events and expenses (Member Services)

-          Review twinning arrangements (Member Services)

-          Discontinue the monthly Fenlander page (Policy and Communications)

Additional items not included on original CSR Councillor Feedback form

-          Cease Business Awards support

-          Cease Planners Design Awards

-          Review the Council's communications strategy

Article added January 19, 2016