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Leisure centres set to catch some rays and new skateparks on the horizon as budget is approved

Cllr Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg

North Herts Council’s 2023/2024 budget was approved by councillors at last week’s Full Council meeting (Thursday 23 February).

We’re moving towards our goal to make council operations carbon neutral by 2030, by installing solar panels on our leisure centres, and have a number of other projects planned against a backdrop of financial pressures.

Our budget includes:

  • £250k to renovate the skatepark at King George V Recreation Ground in Hitchin, and £100k to renovate and update the skatepark at Newmarket Road in Royston and improve access to it;
  • £20k for an extension of the Outdoor Pool season at Letchworth for a further year;
  • £720k for solar panels at North Herts Leisure Centre in Letchworth, Royston Leisure Centre and Hitchin Swim Centre to reduce carbon emissions and save money;
  • £50k additional funding for one year to support the work of North Herts CVS, North Herts Minority Ethnic Forum and Citizens Advice;
  • £30k over three years to support the extension of the Chiltern Area of Outstanding National Beauty;
  • £100k for the creation of a Community Wealth Fund which will be open to bids from local groups for projects that have a sustainable and measurable impact on the local area;
  • £400k for the refurbishment of Charnwood, the former Museum site, into a community hub.
  • Funding for CCTV camera replacement, which will bring them up-to-date and provide better image quality. We have worked with the police on the best locations for these cameras and also consulted with Area Committees.

Council tax will increase in North Herts by 2.99% in line with the provisions in our medium-term Financial Strategy. This is also in line with the majority of other councils in Hertfordshire. We want to be a Council that delivers the services our residents value and be financially sustainable. Therefore, we need to increase our element of the Council Tax.

We are introducing a new Council Tax Reduction Scheme from 01 April 2023, which means that the lowest income households in the district will not need to pay anything at all.

Cllr Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg, Leader of the Council, said: “We know lots of people are struggling with the ongoing cost of living crisis and inflation. As a council, we too have to work hard to balance the books. We’ve looked closely at where we can make savings, and sensibly spend some of our reserves so that we can maintain our key services, deliver some extra support to you, and invest in the district with our larger capital projects. But the impact of inflation and energy costs on our budget cannot be underplayed, along with our continuing recovery from the pandemic. We’re increasing Council Tax – at a rate significantly below inflation - to protect essential services and deliver the things you’ve told us matter most to you.”

Ian Albert Executive Member for Finance at North Herts Council said: “I am proud of what this Labour and Liberal Democrat joint administration has achieved collectively for residents since we took control in 2019. In the face of the pandemic and then the cost of living crises, we have been able to invest in our key services to support our residents through this difficult time.”

“Our budget sets us on track for a District where we will continue to put people first, deliver sustainable services, and enable a brighter and greener future together.”

If you are struggling with the cost of living we have put together a one-stop source of help and information –

If you are in crisis, please call HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044.

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