Good housekeeping will allow authority to weather the storm

Ryan Fuller, leader of the district council, writes for The Hunts Post.

HDC leader Ryan Fuller says the district council are in a good position to weather the financial storm. - Credit: HDC

At last week’s district council meeting our budget for the forthcoming year was approved, with councillors welcoming the ambitious financial programme we proposed for 2021/22.

Thanks to many years of strong financial management of the council’s finances we are in a position where we can weather the current impacts of the pandemic, continue to maintain and invest in key services and commit funds to supporting our residents and businesses in these most difficult of times.

We are managing to do all of this whilst setting a balanced budget and deciding not to increase our share of the Council Tax for the forthcoming year in line with my group’s manifesto pledge, and in recognition of the difficult economic climate many of our residents are facing as a result of the pandemic.

Job creation, economic development and significant investment in our market towns is a central theme of our new budget and of our planned economic recovery.

I am therefore pleased that my Cabinet also agreed last week to commit a further £1.7 million to the St Neots Future High Streets Fund project, allowing us to deliver the full £12 million investment plan.

This takes HDC’s total investment to £5.25 million with the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority led by Mayor James Palmer contributing £3.1 million and the Government providing the remainder of the funding via its national Future High Streets Fund.

Funding of this magnitude is incredibly difficult to secure and it is a testament to the strength of HDC’s bid for St Neots that it was one of just 100 across the entire country that was awarded Government funding.

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The proposals include the regeneration of the Old Falcon Inn, redevelopment of the area around the Priory Centre, improvements to the Market Square, High Street and St Neots Road Bridge, plus a new waterfront walk.

Once the Government has signed off on its final funding offer, HDC will launch a widescale public consultation process to shape a town centre for St Neots that will be fit for the future.

Whilst St Neots has benefitted from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund and is the first to receive its own bespoke investment and regeneration plan, we are actively planning similar ambitious investments in Huntingdon, St Ives and Ramsey with funds already set aside in the new budget to do so. As I have said before, the prosperity of Huntingdonshire is not a zero-sum game and nowhere will be left behind.