Council Tax statement from Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of Stockport Council

When I was elected Leader of the council two years ago, I was all too aware of the economic challenges we all faced.

Council Tax statement from Cllr Mark Hunter, Leader of Stockport Council

It is safe to say that since then, these challenges have continued to put local authorities across the country under serious financial pressure. The scale of the task has increased since then and we are more focused than ever on making responsible decisions that secure the long-term future of Stockport.

Central government required us to make savings of £10.863m in this year’s budget, thankfully we have put ourselves in a strong position- by being prudent with our reserves and continuing our proud record of sound financial management over many years. However, we cannot be complacent. To give just two examples, since 2019/20, council energy bills have doubled, and the cost of waste collection has risen by 35%. We find again and again that we are being asked by central government to provide better services that are costing more, with less funding.

At the last full Council meeting, I called for a Royal Commission to fully explore Local Government finances, it is no coincidence that councils of all political colours across the country are struggling, nobody has all the answers- I believe it’s time for a fundamental reset.

Despite the challenges I’ve just listed, we have been able to make excellent progress on making our Borough greener and fairer. As part of the ongoing revitalisation of the town centre, Stockport exchange continues to be an exciting new development providing excellent opportunities for our residents. Meanwhile the 2-acre Interchange Park has been newly named by our residents- Viaduct Park is to be opened in the coming weeks, providing green space in the centre of our town that can be enjoyed by all in the community.

Furthermore, our Open+ scheme for libraries has been a resounding success and will continue to be implemented across the borough. We recognise libraries are at the heart of our communities and we are proud to have bucked national trends by keeping every single library in Stockport open, we have ensured everyone can make the most of all they have to offer.

We further recognise that as the cost-of-living crisis continues, our role in protecting the most vulnerable only becomes more important. Our Community Led Model for Adult Social Care will ensure people will live independently in their own homes for as long as possible, our travel training for SEN pupils will provide them with valuable skills for life and we continue to make positive investments to protect the poorest in our communities.

While the financial future for local government looks bleak, we haven’t been afraid to make difficult decisions and we are proud of the work we have done to create a budget that keeps our long-term future secure. We’ve done this through responsible financial management, positive investments and by sticking to our priorities to protect the most vulnerable. We firmly believe this approach is how we continue to build a Stockport that has the services, opportunities, and progress that our residents deserve.