Statement on Council Tax from Councillor Mark Hunter, Leader of Stockport Council

It is evident that these challenges have persisted, putting local authorities across the country in significant financial strain. The magnitude of the task has grown, and we are more determined than ever to make responsible decisions that safeguard Stockport’s long-term future.

The government mandated us to make savings of £10.863m in this year’s budget. Fortunately, we have positioned ourselves well by being cautious with our reserves and maintaining a strong track record of financial management. However, we cannot be complacent. For instance, council energy bills have doubled since 2019/20, and waste collection costs have risen by 35%. We are constantly asked to deliver better services at higher costs with limited funding.

In the latest full Council meeting, I proposed a Royal Commission to thoroughly examine Local Government finances. It is no coincidence that councils of various political affiliations are facing challenges nationwide. No one has all the solutions, and I believe it is time for a fundamental reset.

Despite the aforementioned challenges, we have made significant strides towards making our Borough more environmentally friendly and equitable. Stockport Exchange, part of the town centre’s ongoing revitalisation, continues to offer exciting opportunities for our residents. The newly named Viaduct Park, a 2-acre green space in the town centre, will open soon for the community to enjoy.

Our Open+ scheme for libraries has been highly successful and will be expanded across the borough. Recognising the importance of libraries in our communities, we have kept every library in Stockport open, defying national trends and ensuring everyone can benefit from their services.

As the cost-of-living crisis persists, our role in safeguarding the most vulnerable becomes increasingly crucial. Our Community Led Model for Adult Social Care promotes independent living, while our travel training for SEN pupils equips them with essential life skills. We continue to make meaningful investments to support the poorest members of our communities.

Despite the grim financial outlook for local government, we have not shied away from tough decisions. Through responsible financial management, strategic investments, and a commitment to protecting the most vulnerable, we have crafted a budget that secures our long-term future. We believe that this approach is key to building a Stockport that offers the services, opportunities, and progress our residents deserve.

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