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Our strategy update for 2017

Our strategy update reflects progress made in the last three years since the commencement of the Council Plan and areas we want to focus on moving forward. We continue to promote the interests of our residents and businesses with central government and our work to establish partnerships across local authorities continues to develop.

Economic growth

We will continue to increase economic investment and help boost the economy facilitating the growth of more well-paid jobs to make South Lakeland a desirable place for young people and families achieve their full potential. We have an Economic Growth Strategy for the district, designed to facilitate the delivery of our economic growth ambition in both rural and urban areas.

Working with our towns we will improve access to our town centres and spread the economic benefits of successful town centres across the district. We will continue to seek new funding opportunities for the economic growth in the district in order to really make a difference.

Housing

We adopted our Core Strategy in 2010 and Land Allocations plan in 2013, way ahead of most North West councils, to allocate sites to meet the district’s need for housing. Detailed development briefs have been prepared for eight key sites across the district to guide issues such as the design, layout, access and green space provision. We were also among the first councils in the north to introduce a Community Infrastructure Levy; a levy on developers to fund new infrastructure.

Environment

We have implemented optimised waste and recycling collection rounds to deliver an enhanced kerbside recycling service that now collects plastic and cardboard alongside the existing paper, glass and cans to 75% of the residents (100% by April 2017).

New solar panels have been installed at our main office in Kendal; these will save about £122,000 and over 300 tonnes of carbon emissions over their lifespan.

We continue to work with agencies to understand why the floods happened.  We continue to lobby for actions to be put in place to minimise the impact of them happening again, and support communities to develop resilience plans so they are better prepared in the future.

We will continue to fund and support green projects such as promoting carbon reduction, energy efficiency schemes and supporting cycling initiatives

Culture and wellbeing

A free town centre Wi-Fi one year pilot scheme in Kendal has been set up and we have supported several key events in the district, including the second stage of the Tour of Britain which generated £1.3 million for the South Lakeland economy, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival and the Kendal Mountain Festival. We have provided life-saving water safety training to more than 3,000 schoolchildren and health and crime reduction has been supported by securing £100,000 to tackle domestic abuse issues in South Cumbria.

Collaboration

We will continue to work with partners on a collaborative approach to devolution. Working with neighbouring authorities, and engaging with government, we will pursue a positive agenda for economic growth and improvements and efficiencies in public service delivery. Our approach will assist the government significantly in the delivery of its policies on productivity, securing a greater proportion of low carbon energy, increased gross value added and more jobs.

South Lakeland will seek to maximize its role influencing the growth of the Northern Powerhouse and influencing the strategy for transport in the north. We will continue to work with Cumbria County Council to reduce duplication of work and make efficiencies across services. We will also continue to engage with Parish and Town councils on what powers they would like to see devolved.

Innovation

Through our innovation and improvement portfolio, we will look at where there are opportunities to reduce costs by using our knowledge and skills to become more entrepreneurial in the way we do business. We will also continue to build on our successes and identify opportunities for further shared service arrangements.

Our customers

We are transforming the way we deliver services by maximising digital technology, putting customers at the heart of everything we do.  We will encourage self-service while ensuring that those who need more complex assistance receive it in a customer friendly way. We will improve services, reflecting growing customer demand for a simpler way of doing business.

It involves:

Digital: integrating new and existing systems.

People: changing the way our staff work.

Places: reviewing where the council and its workforce is based.

The Digital element involves working jointly with Eden District Council and both councils have agreed a long-term contract with IT Solutions firm Meritec. We are replacing systems for development control, building control, land charges, web publishing, customer relationship management, and providing a citizen portal to display, track, and record transactions in a way which is transparent. The People element involves modernising our structure and eliminating silo-working.

Our place

We will continue to put South Lakeland at the heart of decision making. We will help our towns and villages to thrive commercially whilst retaining their distinctive character. We are committed to furthering the localism agenda and empowering local communities to develop.

Our members, our workforce

Our elected Members have sought to work collaboratively with all public services and other key partners to reduce duplication of work and improve customer service.

In 2014 we achieved the Investors in People (IiP) silver standard and maintained the IiP standard in 2015. This supports our commitment to staff and Member development. This award will continue to help the council recruit, retain and develop the workforce. The continued success of our apprenticeship scheme has enabled opportunities for young people to get into work at South Lakeland District Council.

Our assets

We will look at opportunities to make the best use of our council assets, investing to save and increase income and revenue when and where appropriate to do so. Where there is an appetite and sound rationale, we will seek opportunities to devolve services and transfer or sell local assets to town and parish councils and community groups.

Our resources

We have delivered a balanced budget while protecting front-line services and key ongoing projects like the plastics and cardboard kerbside recycling roll-out. This year’s budget includes several growth proposals, including investment to strengthen economic development activities and providing the funds to support ‘green’ projects such as promoting carbon reduction, energy efficiency schemes and supporting cycling initiatives.

The council has identified savings through its own back- office efficiencies to ensure it continues to achieve a balanced budget going forward and the estimated £1.4 million costs in relation to the recent flooding and flood recovery work has been met from general reserves.

We will continue to deliver our vision via sustainable and cost effective services. The council’s net revenue service budget for 2017 to 2018 totals £14.7 million. Efficiencies totalling circa £129,000 are included in the current Five Year Medium Term Financial Plan. The deficits are projected rise form £1.2 million in 2018 to 2019 to £1.4 million in 2021 to 2022. £850,000 of this will be met through the Customer Connect Programme with options to meet the balancing circa £500,000 currently under development.