Annual report

Annual Report 2018 to 2019

Introduction
Economy and culture
Housing and communities
Health and environment
Council successes
Finance table

Introduction

This report looks back at some of the successes the council has achieved throughout 2018 to 2019 whilst showing a future picture of how the council will work together to achieve our vision to make South Lakeland the best place to live, work and explore by striving to deliver the Council Plan Priorities:

  • working across boundaries to deliver sustainable communities
  • create the right balance across all communities
  • reduce inequalities
  • encourage a sustainable environment and inclusive economy

The council is influenced by our three key values:

  • empowering people: by listening to our customers and our employees their ideas and comments will help us make improvements to customer service and workforce development
  • excellence: seeking continuous improvement in what we do, ensuring that our actions address the needs of South Lakeland
  • open and transparent: being courteous, efficient and transparent in our dealing with the public

The council is supported by a strong ambition to have a varied economy with a skilled workforce, a balanced housing market to meet needs, great leisure services to encourage healthy lifestyles and a cultural offer that appeals to residents and visitors alike.

If the current trend in South Lakeland continues it is expected that the districts population overall will reduce, the number of over 65’s will increase and there will be a less active working age population.

Research shows that South Lakeland is ageing significantly faster than UK, regional or county averages. We need to work to encourage young people to stay and attract new people to rebalance the population.

In most measures of poverty South Lakeland fares better than nationally, but a selection of wards can be identified which have quite extreme levels of low incomes and poverty. According to statistics in January 2018 15.5% of children were living in poverty in Westmorland and Lonsdale. By working together with local partners such as Age UK, Citizens Advice, South Lakes Housing and Kendal College the council has been strengthening local collaboration on projects, resources and strategies aimed at tackling poverty. These opportunities created are easier for local people to access and take action to help themselves.

Housing in South Lakeland is amongst the least affordable in the north of England. Median house prices are 9.7 time median earnings. The district needs to deliver 320 new homes every year including 153 new affordable home between 2016 and 2036. The council has a target of delivering 1,000 affordable homes to rent between 2014 and 2025 and is on track to meet this target.

Health and wellbeing statistics nationally are showing an increased trend in obesity levels in both children and adults, as well as a reduction in physical activity. By utilising our assets to enable physical activity such as parks, footpaths and the healthy weight declaration we can support the reduction of these rising levels.

The allocation of public monies in Cumbria is low, therefore the council has adopted the Cumbria Public Health Strategy and is working with partners to implement this.

Economy and Culture

Throughout 2018/19 the council has supported a wide variety of cultural activities across the district such as Tour of Britain, Great North Swim, Kendal Mountain Festival and Comic Arts Festival. The success of these events continue to grow and attract tourism and economic activity to the district. The council’s strategic support for key arts and cultural organisations helped secure more than £7m of investment in South Lakeland in 2018, including funding for the new Windermere Jetty Museum, which opened early in 2019. Council assets are becoming increasingly utilised with a total of 27 wedding ceremonies held at Kendal Town Hall throughout 2018.

The council has continued to work closely with the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce to provide a business support service freely available for both start-ups and existing enterprises. This has seen a series of workshops, networking events and 1-2-1 advice delivered. The council has also teamed up with Green Small Business, Bentley-Brown Associates and Eco-innovation Cumbria to deliver a drop in event for businesses to explain the benefits of having an environment management system in place, helping local businesses to be greener, more energy efficient and environmentally aware. Many of the business sessions have been held at the council’s own business centre, The MintWorks.

The MintWorks has been fully occupied for the majority of the year and its facilities continue to be marketed, with promotional activity this year including a website redesign, creation of a virtual online tour and hotdesking initiatives. Multiple bookings were made which exceeded the room hire target by 64%. A redesign of the business facing Invest in South Lakeland website has also been undertaken to improve the digital platform and online resources available for existing South Lakeland businesses and those looking to relocate to the district.

The council undertook its annual business survey for 2018 which plays an important role in informing South Lakeland’s future Local Plan. The survey was distributed to 4,619 South Lakeland businesses, in total 1,000 responses were received (22%). The survey found that 20% of respondents were "very confident" about the next 12 months and 54% were fairly confident", with 17% of total respondents expecting their staffing levels to increase over the next 12 months.

A total of 179 responding businesses (18% of the total) expect their premises needs to change over the next three years. Two out of five (41% of those anticipating change) would consider expanding their existing site, 30% would look at moving to a larger site and 12% may acquire additional premises to meet their future needs. The most likely types of premises these businesses would be looking for are offices and retail units.

Grange Promenade structural works, have secured an additional £1m from the Coastal Communities Fund for enhancements to the Promenade. All works are scheduled to be completed by March 2021. A further £1.35m has been secured in the same funding bid for project delivery by Morecambe Bay Partnership, who continue to strengthen the Bay brand and link into the Lancaster and South Cumbria Economic Region.

Over the past 12 months the council has continued to work with Craven District Council, Creative Partners, Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks to develop and complement the Great Place initiative. The initiative is now in the second year of delivery where the action plan is aimed to develop sustainable resilient creative communities and economy’s, celebrate the skill and experience of creative people and a good quality of life. This will in turn retain and attract younger people to our districts to influence, support and create our future economy.

South Lakeland has joined up with partners Lancaster City Council and Barrow Borough Council to launch an Economic Initiative to increase the opportunities for investment across the Bay area. The initiative will promote the Bay as a great place to live, work and explore and identify channels of government investment to improve economic prosperity. The initiative was praised by Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Minister Jake Berry MP, as exciting and positive and he is keen to see the plans taken forward. A prospectus for the initiative has been created to attract new investors and encourage local businesses to promote the opportunities available. A formal launch event for business and government leads will be held in June 2019. This is the North's new economic hotspot. Employment opportunities are increasing visitor numbers are on the rise and the Bay offers a quality of
life which is unsurpassed in the UK.

Housing and communities

The council launched a £6million housing fund to help build more affordable homes across South Lakeland. The loan facility enables housing associations to access low rate finance from the council, removing an obstacle which could prevent them from developing more homes across the district. In exchange the council receives a financial return from repayment of the loans and fulfils its pledge to work with partners to deliver more affordable homes. The council is on target to deliver 1,000 new affordable homes to rent by 2025.

The council contributed £35,000 towards preserving the heritage at Burton in Kendal which is currently on the National Heritage at Risk register. The first phase of restoration work commenced in 2018 as part of a three year project. A detailed study was undertaken to identify what work is required on the buildings most at risk and calculate accurate costings. The council, Historic England and Burton in Kendal Parish Council are now working in close partnership to help fund enhancement and restoration work.

The council has been working closely with partners to reduce the levels of poverty within the district by opening up the channels of support available to communities. Throughout 2018/19 the group has worked with partners to promote work placements, apprenticeships and free employment skills sessions. The LEAP scheme was launched in November 2018 which provides free energy advice and saving tips such as switching energy tariffs and access to telephone support on financial management to South Lakeland residents. The groups has also worked to provide free advice on food waste and has linked up with the Morecambe Bay Poverty Truth Commission and their initiatives across North
Lancashire.

In March 2019 the council adopted a Joint Development Plan in partnership with Lancaster City Council for the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The two councils worked together with the AONB Management and Executive Committee to produce the plan which is the first in the country to be prepared in this way to apply policies and allocations across the AONB. The plan includes a principle that 50% of all new housing in the AONB on sites of two or more dwellings should be affordable, as well as principles relating to development strategy; Open Space and Key Settlement Landscapes; camping, caravanning and visitor accommodation; and water quality, sewerage and sustainable drainage in areas where there is no mains drainage.

This year saw the council open the seventh round of bids for Locally Important Projects (LIPS) to award in 2019/20. The successful bids support the wider provision of community infrastructure/ facilities which help a community adapt or address needs. Just an example of some of the projects the funding has supported include; New fencing around the playground in Dent, stage and facilities refurbishment at Arnside Educational Institute, installation and improved accessibility to Biskey Howe Point, community space in Staveley and support towards the installation of B4RN at Stainton.

Health and environment

A policy on Climate Change was passed by Council in February 2019 which is looking at new ways of making energy savings and efficiencies. Following a series of public meetings throughout 2019 the council agreed to investigate more ways in which we can have a positive impact on climate change. Also council decisions will be considered in the context of the effect on the environment, with special comment on the effect of future carbon emissions. Work undertaken across 2018/19 to become a more green council includes; supporting schemes which promote energy efficiency (LEAP) and renewable energy, planting more trees and encouraged climate change friendly land management, encouraging energy saving through tips for the week, phased out single use plastics, promoted cycling and walking schemes and continues to investigate ways of reducing our carbon footprint such as the installation of solar panels on SLDC assets. The Council is also taking action to reduce its carbon footprint and improve air quality as identified in the Air Quality Action Plan.

During 2018 the council headed a project to trial coffee cup recycling at outdoor events. Officers worked with James Cropper and Sons, Cumbria Waste Recycling, Cumbria County Council and the Westmorland Agricultural Society to provide facilities at Countryfest and the County Show. These were the first events in the country at which such facilities were provided. The council has a collection service for bulky waste, such as furniture and domestic appliances, which is provided under contract by Right2Work. All waste collected is used for training in the collection service, repairing and refurbishing items and the sale of furniture at Right2Works store in Kendal. Around 70% of the waste collected is sold in store or recycled. The service was shortlisted in two national awards this year. The Association for Public Service Excellence recognised this in the Innovation Category of their 2018 awards; and The Local Government Chronical short-listed the service in the Best Service Delivery Model of their 2019 awards.

In March 2019 the council agreed to adopt the Cumbria Public Health Strategy. This strategy will lead a new vision for collaborative working on social, economic and environmental themes to create a healthier Cumbria. Instead of focusing on individuals’ lifestyle choices and behaviours, which are already being addressed, the strategy acknowledges the conditions in which a person is born, lives, works and ages has impact on their access and ability to live a healthier life. Adopting this strategic approach will improve the council’s contribution to promoting, enabling and providing services which improve health of our communities.

Communities across South Lakeland celebrated the official opening of new parks and open spaces. Nobles Rest Park was reopened in September following the completion of Phase 1 improvement works including new drainage and pathways as part of a community led project. Work also commenced on phase 1 seeing new pathways at Rayrigg Meadow, Millerground. The works to install a new inclusive play area begun in March 2019. Following help of children from St Mary’s and St Martins schools, Windermere, work was carried out on a new planting scheme and overgrown shrubs were removed from the Baddeley Clock area to make the land more attractive and usable. A successful Lottery application and award of £200,000 early in 2019 took investment in parks and playgrounds in South Lakeland to more than £1 million in last five years. SLDC has supported a variety of improvements over the past year at parks and open spaces across the district for example; Broadgate Meadow Grasmere, Maryfell play area in Sedbergh, Yew Tree play are in Grange over Sands and Castlefield and Greenbank Play area in Ambleside. However all works have been greatly supported and completed in partnership with various community groups such as Bowness and Windermere Civic Society, Hallgarth Community Centre, Friends of Lightburn Park and Sedbergh Parish Council.

Following the Breastfeeding friendly scheme launched by the council more than 70 Businesses and organisations across South Lakeland have signed up to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding. The businesses who have signed up to scheme have all displayed a sticker in their window to display their support for mothers to breastfeed on their premises.

The council has joined together with the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy to launch a ‘Bin the Butt’ campaign. This campaign was launched to urge people to rethink how they dispose of cigarettes. Cigarettes which are not disposed of correctly are getting washed into the sea causing significant damage to marine life. Awareness was raised of the campaign by displaying posters across the areas and in known hotspots, as well as signage on our fleet waste, recycling and street cleansing vehicles.

Council successes

In 2018 Councillors approved a new business plan to transform the way the council delivers services. The Customer Connect programme is estimated to make savings of £8million over 10 years by restructuring the organisation and embracing more digital technology. The programme will allow customers to access council services online 24/7, a more convenient way with the opportunity to self-serve. The programme is designed to improve systems and deliver services in a more efficient way, reducing waste and processes, empowering employees and restructuring the whole organisation from top-to-bottom. Council has also agreed plans to modernise the council and Town Hall buildings to allow spare space to be let to town centre business, to improve accessibility for the public and to increase community meeting spaces, this is expected to save a further £450,000 over the next ten years.

In 2018 the council worked with the Royal British Legion to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 with specially designed artwork on the side of refuse collection vehicles.

The posters were designed by the RBL to remember the sacrifices made by ordinary men and women during the conflict. The vehicles were used around the district to raise awareness and we were invited by the Association for Public Service Excellence to speak about this work at a seminar during remembrance week.

The council has received a Bronze Better Health at Work award following the promotion of healthy messages throughout the workplace. The award recognises the achievements of the organisation in promoting healthy lifestyles through three key priorities; Physical activity, nutrition and mental health. Just some of the activities which the council undertook in 2018/19 included hosting Health and Wellbeing week at each council workplace, delivering training on mental health, dementia awareness and suicide alertness and sharing advice on hydration, alcohol consumption, reduction in sugary drinks, stop smoking and flu jab campaigns. Throughout 2019 the council will be working towards achieving a silver award.

The council introduced a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for 2019-2022 which outlines how the council is meeting the requirements of the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010. The strategy supports the council aim to create an environment where everyone can participate and has equal opportunities. The council has taken a pledge to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the act, advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Our Right2Work bulky waste service, which provides employment opportunities for disabled young people was nominated for two national service delivery awards in 2019. The councils contract with Right2Work helps transform the lives of disabled and disadvantaged people, as well as diverting more than 120 tonnes of waste away from landfill.

Finances

Budget and financial reports 2018 to 2019

Finance information table
Service Gross expenditure, £000 Income, £000 Net expenditure, £000
Neighbourhood service 14,671.7 -8,398.6 -6,273.1
Strategic development 8,456.7 -4,382.4 4,074.3
Policy and innovation 2,273.4 -60.1 2,213.3
Resources 22,742.6 -20,140.2 2,602.4
Cost of services 48,144.4 -32,981.3 15,163.1
Financing entries and statutory accounting requirements n/a n/a -2,478.4
Net increase/decrease in General Fund balances and reserves n/a n/a -157.1
SLDC budget requirement n/a n/a 12,527.6
Non domestic rates n/a n/a -3,440.5
Revenue support grant n/a n/a 0
Other grants n/a n/a -433.5
SLDC demand on collection fund n/a n/a 8,653.6
Collection fund surplus/deficit (-/+) n/a n/a -24.5
SLDC Council Tax requirement n/a n/a 8,629.1