Maidenhead regeneration championed by council bosses
COUNCIL bosses are defending the regeneration of Maidenhead as a loss of trading rates widens the Royal Borough’s £18million black hole.
As part of the local authority’s medium term financial strategy 2023/24 to 2027/28, which sets out financial planning and management, it states that savings of £18 million are to be made over the next five next few years if the government grants or fixes the housing tax beyond the The 1.99% ceiling is not provided for.
This includes savings of £7.3m next year, £1.8m in 2024/25, £2.9m in 2025/26, £3.1m in 2026 /27 and £2.4m in 2027/28. The report warns that £3million could be added each year if the government does not cover the additional costs of adult welfare reform, but this is an ‘estimate’.
Inflation and rising costs, the consequences of the pandemic and pressures on adult social care are to blame for this black hole. The board also has low levels of reserves which are “insufficient” to absorb financial pressures.
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The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is also in the unique position of having the fourth lowest council tax in the country, which has caused the local authority to lose additional revenue.
However, Cllr David Hilton (Con: Ascot & Sunninghill), Senior Member for Finance, said £7.2m of the £18m was a loss in commercial rates as a “direct consequence” of the regeneration of Maidenhead.
This major transformation involves the destruction of buildings in the town centre, including the Nicholsons shopping centre, for new homes, retail and office space, and parking at Vicus Way.
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Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Thursday July 22, Cllr Hilton said: ‘There’s a price to pay, but damn it, the outcome of this regeneration will transform Maidenhead for the benefit of all who live in Maidenhead and also for all those who live in the village.
“I’m speechless to think anyone might think that was the wrong thing to do.”
Managing Director Duncan Sharkey added that this is a “one-shot” where new businesses and new homes will generate new revenue which will benefit the council in the long term.
The local authority, along with others, is lobbying the government to set council tax above the 1.99% cap without resorting to a referendum. Council leader Andrew Johnson (Con: Hurley & Walthams) said he was waiting for the government to clarify what future local government funding will look like and what council tax cap scheme will be in place.
He added he was ‘proud’ that the Royal Borough council tax is the cheapest during the cost of living crisis and will always be ‘hundreds of pounds cheaper’ compared to other councils of Berkshire, such as Slough and Bracknell.
Cllr Johnson said: “We need to strike a balance between protecting frontline services while ensuring residents get what they pay for and are not unduly punished with tax increases or other increases at all times. levels.”