District Councillor Melvin Caton


£5million in cuts are on there way at the District Council says Melvin Caton in the district councillor’s February update

At end of November District councillors heard from officers that Uttlesford District Council will need to make substantial savings amounting to £5m over the next five years to balance the council’s budget. This will mean the loss of council jobs and a reduction in the number of services provided and their quality.


Although the budget for the next financial year (2023/24) has not been made or fully discussed yet the Chief Financial Officer advised members that to “balance the budget” it would likely be necessary to use up either £4m of the council’s reserves (of £12m) or to sell one or more of the Council’s investment properties. Both these options would be “one offs” and expenditure at the current level is not sustainable in the long term.

The council will decide its 2023/24 budget on the 21st February. Like they did successfully last year, the Stansted district councillors have already been arguing for Uttlesford to fund more local actions tackling the Cost of Living Crisis in the district. Before Christmas they collectively contributed £2000 towards Touchpoint’s Kids Christmas Appeal from their Ward Initiative Funding.  Funding has been given to local primary schools to support the provision of hot school meals for pupils in need and other projects.


At a special Cabinet meeting just before Christmas the Chief Executive reported on a number of issues concerning the Housing function.

Chiefly it had been discovered that the wrong inflation measure had been applied which meant that rents of our Council Houses were increased by 1% more than they should have been over the last two years. The council has apologised to tenants and is arranging to refund the overcharge (plus interest) as quickly as possible. In September the Council had already referred themselves to the Regulator of Social Housing because of their failure to meet maintenance and other health and safety checks on its stock of around 2800 homes.


The Cabinet also agreed to provide an additional £260,000 per annum to support the district’s three leisure centres. The increased support is required because Covid  has reduced the number of people using the Centres  and spiralling energy costs. It is a concern that changes to the opening hours at the Centres are under consideration. According to the report any changes “will have the most impact on the Mountfitchet Romeera Centre, which has experienced the most significant drop off in usage”.


At the beginning of January, a District Council by- election was held for the Dunmow South and Barnston ward following the resignation of a R4U councillor who moved to Norfolk in August 2021. 1n a low turnout election R4U, the majority party on Uttlesford, lost nearly 30% of their previous vote to lose the seat to the Conservatives. Perhaps it is an early indication that local residents are looking for more competence from their local council leadership. All councillors will be up for election on 4th May 2023 including the new councillor elected in Dunmow last month.



Later in January the Council will discuss the pros and cons of a deal with the Government to devolve some functions and funding to a Greater Essex partnership of Essex County Council, Southend -on-Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Unitary Council. District Councils will not be party to the deal but the leader of Essex County Council is asking for them to vote on the proposals before they are submitted to the Government by the end of January. Some councillors are concerned that the decision is being rushed through before the local elections in May without proper consultation or consideration.