Erewash Borough Council’s new leadership has issued a pledge to prioritise helping local people through the cost-of-living crisis – while admitting that the squeeze means tough town hall decisions lie ahead.
Leader of Erewash Borough Council, Councillor James Dawson said in the wake of Labour taking control from the Conservatives in May:
“The public has voted for change. There is much we want to do. But the absolute number one priority is helping struggling local families who face ever-increasing bills for fuel, food and keeping a roof over their heads.”
Councillor Dawson went on:
“Our greatest challenge is the fact the cost-of-living crisis threatens to cripple the council itself – on top of years of central government cuts to local spending.
“We have no magic pot of money. The council is currently having to find ways to use far less cash to maintain the vital services it already runs.”
A cost-of-living action plan is being drawn up by the authority. The strategy focusses on working with partner organisations such as Citizens Advice, while also detailing how residents can be informed of what direct council help is available.
Councillor Dawson ruled out any raids on the council’s reserve fund, vowing that the authority will live within its means with no wild spending sprees. He also pledged to be honest with residents. The leader said:
“Erewash faces a budget black hole of more than £1million next year just to maintain services as they are. There is no sugar coating this.
“Our focus will be on identifying savings we can make – while wringing every ounce of available funding from the government.”
Cllr Dawson pointed to transformation that is under way in the centre of Long Eaton. It is NOT being paid for out of council coffers but is thanks to Erewash battling for a share of the government’s Towns Fund.
In Ilkeston there are plans to launch a free shuttle bus to the top of town. Again, the money for this is from the government – levelling-up cash that came with strict conditions on the kinds of things it must be spent on. Cllr Dawson insisted:
“We are determined to balance the books and find a sustainable way of operating. In the spirit of total honesty this will force the council into some choices we would sooner not make, and which residents will not be happy about.
“But having said that, our promise to residents amid the unprecedented squeeze remains. We WILL deliver on your priorities.”