Mr Mayor – this time last year I stood before you and set out a positive vision for Derby as a safe, strong and ambitious city – a fantastic place to live, work and visit.

Tonight, this administration will demonstrate how we’re making that vision a reality and pay tribute to the tremendous work employees of this Council perform every single day.

Derby is a city with enormous ambition.

It’s a city that has always punched above its weight and it’s a city that has never been content with standing still.

In fact, this month Derby was named as the fastest growing city economy in the East Midlands and the third in the UK behind only Aberdeen and Cambridge.

And we’re a place where organisations work together to improve city life.

This budget is befitting of our buoyant local economy, embodies the spirit of partnership and reinforces our ambition to create a city for the future.

Since 2014, we’ve been determined in our goal to put this Council on a firmer footing.

We’ve been resolute in taking the tough decisions needed to see the authority through an unprecedented period of uncertainty. And we’ve never lost sight of our vision for Derby.

Mr Mayor – this Council is weathering the storm. And although there are still some clouds on the horizon, I believe we’ve set a course for a prosperous future.

Last year, we set our vision through our 50 Pledges. Tonight, you will see the progress that has been made in delivering those commitments.

 


 

This budget is about realising our vision for the city, bringing partners together and leading the way in achieving our shared ambitions.

This budget is about delivering for the people of Derby.

Mr Mayor – we’re immensely proud that Derby is a city where people are safe and the vulnerable are supported.

And we make no apology for prioritising the services that protect our most vulnerable residents.

We can now see the results of that decision.

In the last year, our children’s services have been rated Good by OFSTED – a terrific achievement, we can all agree.

Through successive budgets, we’ve put the resources in place that gave officers the confidence and stability to deliver safe and sustainable services for young people in our city.

And it’s a credit to the work of Andy Smith and his team that they have repaid the faith we showed in them in full by securing this fantastic outcome.

Our support for the services that protect the most vulnerable has resulted in cuts elsewhere. We’ve been forced to make choices that at face value have not always been popular.

But we’ve shown strong leadership, not allowing the negativity of our critics to limit our determination to improve the lives of people in Derby.

We’ve changed the way we deliver services to become more commercial in our approach, sought inspiration from our partners and found new ways to help those in need of support.

This year, we worked closely with Hannells and other local sponsors to stage the Darley Park Concert. We were able to reinstate this highlight of the city’s cultural calendar with their support and the introduction of a modest entry fee.

We’ve worked with local philanthropists and fundraisers to set-up more school breakfast clubs, helping children across the city to get a healthy start to their school day.

And we’ve established our own not-for-profit energy brand, RAM Energy. With over 1200 meters already switched, we’re using the authority’s financial resources to help those at risk of fuel-poverty save money on their household bills.

The next few years will bring more challenges – we’ll face the economic impact of Brexit and the continued pressures of an ageing population, while technology will be increasingly integral to how we function as a city

But we’ll continue to adapt and continue to thrive.

Mr Mayor – we’re building resilience in to our services by reaching out to partners old and new.

Front page of the Metro Strategy document

The Derby Nottingham Metropolitan Strategy is confounding old perceptions of rivalry – we’re two cities working together to tackle the same urban problems and set a shared vision for a prosperous future.

More and more, we’ll look outside our city boundaries to work with neighbouring councils, as well as participating in regional and midlands partnerships. And as a major economic contributor, we need to play our part in ensuring the East Midlands has a united, strong and proud voice.

Today, we’ve started consultation on The Four Pillars: Derby’s Economic Growth Strategy.

This is a document for the city, shared by our major partners and intended for all those who have a stake in the economic fortunes of Derby.

Structured into local, regional, national and international strands, it builds on Derby’s heritage and reputation as a centre for manufacturing – with the council taking a strategic role in developing skills, improving productivity and fostering innovation to shape our local economy.

This authority is unrecognisable from the organisation to which some long-standing councillors were first elected, but that is not a bad thing.

We’ve shown that this Council is a modern, flexible and resilient organisation, capable of delivering its services in new and ambitious ways.

 


 

Mr Mayor – this budget has been prepared against the backdrop of the Government’s continued and concerted austerity programme.

In this context, we’ve prepared a balanced budget that anticipates no change to the overall level of funding we receive from Westminster.

As a Labour council, we maintain our fervent belief in subsidised public services and we’re determined to deliver the major investments that residents have told us they want to see.

With no additional funding available directly from the Government, we’ll ask local ratepayers to assume responsibility, through a 5.99 per cent increase in Council Tax.

This will consist of a 2.99 per cent rise from the city council and a further 3 per cent to tackle growing pressures in adult social care.

For a Band A household, which make up around half of the city’s properties, this will mean an increase of one pound per week.

We know that asking for more at a time when household bills are rising is a lot to ask.

But spiralling demand and inflationary pressures in adult social care are a serious risk to local authorities across the country. What’s more, we’ve seen this winter the enormous pressure our partners in the NHS are experiencing.

We need to act now to halt an unfolding crisis. By 2030 there will be double the number of people aged 85 or over in England compared to 2010, many of whom lack adequate retirement income to fund their care.

With the Government gripped by inertia, councils must take responsibility and play their part.

In return for their contribution, residents, businesses and partners can expect a stronger and safer city, as well as a commitment to invest in major projects.

This budget commits a significant capital investment of 108 million pounds for the year ahead, putting in place the infrastructure to create a city for the future.

New Swimming Pool Complex designs

We’re delivering on our pledges to start construction of a new swimming pool complex this year and keep Derby moving by improving the A52, while investing in our schools and protecting communities vulnerable to flooding.

What’s more, we’ll utilise the Housing Revenue Account, aiming to commit almost 30 million pounds towards delivering affordable homes over the next four years.

Mr Mayor – we’re ambitious without being reckless. We’re mindful of emerging risks and prudent in our financial approach, ensuring we can deal with unforeseen events.

That’s why we’re proposing to increase our general reserve to 11 million pounds in line with CIPFA guidelines, while still recommending a budget that requires no additional use of reserves.

With inflation at a six-year high and interest rates rising for the first time in a decade there’ll be more challenges ahead, but we’re better placed to deal with them than at any point since 2010.

And by managing our resources effectively through the Council’s revised treasury management strategy, we can make our finances go further and invest in key capital projects.

Mr Mayor – this is a budget that builds on the stable foundations we’ve put in place in previous years, ready to seize the momentum and take Derby forward.

 


 

Mr Mayor – we’re proud of this Council and we’ve set out a positive and optimistic vision for the future of our city.

But we must also acknowledge the real challenges we’ve faced in the last twelve months.

In July, we heard from our external auditors that insufficient progress had been made in addressing concerns relating to the authority’s financial controls and governance status.

We respected that judgement and gave the Chief Executive the backing he needed to take decisive action. Together, we’ve put the funding and expertise in place to correct these historic mistakes.

Six months’ later we’re in a much stronger position and the recommendations of the auditor are being fully implemented.

The 2015/16 accounts were approved by the Audit and Accounts Committee in September and the 2016/17 accounts were agreed at their meeting last month.

Moreover, we’re confident that our financial statements for 2017/18 will be prepared and audited within the revised statutory timescale of July 2018, when we’ll look to receive an unqualified opinion from Ernst and Young.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the members of that committee for their work in getting to the bottom of these issues.  This Council is on a more stable footing as a result.

Mr Mayor – it’s always uncomfortable to receive criticism, but we’re a Council that is willing to listen. We don’t shy away from tough decisions and we’re open to challenge wherever it’s offered.

That’s why last summer we invited the Local Government Association to conduct a voluntary Corporate Peer Challenge, to offer honest and uncompromising feedback about where the council can improve.

The peer team witnessed some of the exceptional work employees of Derby City Council perform on a daily basis. And they found areas where we must do better.

In the time since, we’ve had a productive and fruitful dialogue with the LGA team and they’ve produced a report that fairly summarises the current position of this authority.

It’s now incumbent on us all to act on the recommendations of our peers. We’ve already developed a Corporate Improvement Plan, which will require the support of members from across the political spectrum to successfully implement.

I’m certain that we’ll hear more from the opposition on matters of governance as they respond to our budget this evening. But there’ll be plenty of time for politics in the lead-up to May’s elections.

For now, the focus is on overcoming our challenges together, so we can continue to make strides in the right direction.

 


 

Last year, our 50 pledges set out this administration’s bold plans for the future and our determination to improve the quality of life for people in Derby.

Mr Mayor – we’ve got off to a flying start.

Whether it’s through doubling intermediate care capacity helping relieve pressure on the NHS; running weekly ‘Talking Points’ drop-in sessions to cut waiting times for social care or protecting the public via taxi licensing reforms, we’re making Derby safer.

From launching a crowd funding platform with the voluntary sector in support of community projects to retaining our city-centre Purple Flag status for a great night out, Derby is stronger as a result of the commitments we’ve made.

And by not limiting the scope of our proposals we’ve shown we’re ambitious, whether that’s by setting up RAM Energy or submitting plans for a new swimming pool complex at Moorways.

As we promised, we’re delivering on our vision for a safe, strong and ambitious city.

This administration will always listen to the concerns of the people we represent.

We’ve heard through the budget consultation how residents value the work of our Community Protection team, introduced following a 1.6 million pound commitment to guarantee cleaner streets and safer communities as part of the last budget.

Since July, we’ve issued almost 200 fixed penalty fines for offences like fly-tipping, 1500 notices for bins left on streets and prosecuted more than 20 residents who’ve refused to take their responsibilities seriously.

Councillor Asaf Afzal with Community Protection Officers on Reeves Road, Derby

So this year we’ll be doubling the number of officers patrolling streets across the city and we’ve already launched a Neighbourhood Charter that reinforces the pride we share in our communities.

Through a combination of engagement, education and enforcement, we’re determined to deliver on our Pledge to make Derby the cleanest English city within the next three years.

Following public consultation, we’ve also reversed planned savings to the B-Line and Livewell schemes, while identifying permanent funding for key cultural events including city centre Christmas lights and the Darley Park Concert.

And that’s not all.

This evening, this Labour administration will make a major announcement in our bid to increase city centre footfall by 10 per cent by 2025.

 


 

At the start of my speech, I said that Derby was not content with standing still. And I re-affirmed our commitment to investing in the infrastructure to create a city for the future.

Through this budget, we’ll take a bold step that is only possible because of the tough decisions that this administration has taken in the past.

Through this budget, we’ll reinvigorate the city centre and transform the cultural landscape of both Derby and the wider region.

Mr Mayor – through this budget, we’ll put the funding in place to build a new Music and Performance Venue in the Marketplace, to open within the next five years.

Our opponents will seize on the opportunity to say this decision is overdue, but its taken four years of diligence to reach this point.

We were all devastated when fire damaged essential equipment in the Assembly Rooms. But we wasted no time embarking on our journey towards a new performance venue.

Since then, Councillor Rawson and his team of officers have been working tirelessly to develop options, assess their feasibility and access external funding.

And their persistence was rewarded with an 8.6 million pound grant from the Local Growth Fund last summer.

In the City Centre Masterplan, we set out how a new performance venue will reanimate the Marketplace, acting as a key link between Intu and the Cathedral Quarter, drawing people into the heart of Derby.

Taken with our commitment to redevelop Becketwell, these projects will act as catalysts for the wider regeneration of the city centre and provide a ten million pound boost to our local economy.

We’ve now heard from more than 1,000 members of the public, and spoken to many businesses and representatives of the cultural sector as part of the public consultation first announced in October.

They too have told us how important a new city-centre entertainment venue is to Derby.

Through the consultation, we’ve learnt how residents were most likely to attend live music and stand-up comedy. We’ve taken this into account, together with the need for a flexible performance space and the growing ambitions of the Derby Theatre.

Our plan for a 3,000 capacity Music and Performance Venue was the most favoured option with the public and we’re confident that it’s best placed to meet demand, while complementing what the city and wider region already has to offer.

In reaching our recommendation, we’ve also listened to the concerns of community organisations – and they’ll continue to have an important role as the project develops.

As a demonstration of our commitment, we’ll ensure that our city’s amateur groups remain supported by protecting the subsidy to the Guildhall Theatre.

What’s more, we’ve put aside an additional ten million pounds for repair and modernisation of both the Guildhall and the Market Hall to complement our plans for the Marketplace.

We’ll continue to consult traders and other stakeholders as our proposals for these beautiful and historic listed buildings are developed.

Mr Mayor – not only is this major announcement the right choice for Derby, but the right choice for the Council’s finances.

Due to the tough decisions we’ve made in previous years, we’ve the confidence and stability to commit to the project now.

And owing to the contribution of local residents through the additional 1 per cent increase in Council Tax, we’ve created the financial headroom to bring forward our investment in the medium-term financial plan.

That means we’ll have the funding in place to identify an operator and start preparing detailed plans for the performance venue immediately.

So while we’re asking local residents to pay more, they’ll get more in return.

Mr Mayor – we’ve taken our time and we’ve made the numbers work. Our plans are not only affordable, but they’re what the city wants and what the city needs.

 


 

Mr Mayor – this budget represents a pivotal moment for Derby City Council.

We’ve been steadfast in our resolve to address this council’s challenges and to put this authority on a firmer footing for the future.

And we’ve never wavered in our fervent belief in public services or our determination to support the thousands of council employees who keep our city running.

It’s through their hard-work and resilience that we’re able to take the bold step I’ve announced today.

Mr Mayor – through our 50 Pledges, we’re delivering on our promises. In the year ahead, we’ll continue on that journey to make our vision for a safe, strong and ambitious Derby a reality.

We’ll work with residents, employers, community groups and partners from across the private, public and voluntary sectors to show that our city is greater than the sum of its parts.

And we’ll commit to the major projects that will make Derby an even greater place to live, work and visit.

Mr Mayor – this is a budget that is optimistic and looks beyond austerity. It’s about how this Council can lead the way in taking our city forward.

This is a budget for Derby.