I COULD not help reflecting last weekend that with improvements to the weather and light nights that spring is very much here.
The same does appear to be happening with our local and national economy. Locally, the project at Beacon Barracks is starting, the Bridge Street multi-storey car park is almost demolished in preparation for the major development there, industrial and commercial occupancy rates are high, and developments around the county are starting to generate new manufacturing jobs.
The Budget set the right tone with increases in personal allowances, the freeing-up of pension schemes and reductions in business taxation. This will help hard-pressed working families and set the right conditions for further growth. It is only by such growth that our deficit problems will eventually be behind us and we were once again reminded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer there is a long way to go before our national budgets come into balance. Whilst we have made great strides in reducing the deficit there is still a significant year-on-year gap which needs to be eliminated.
I am pleased to report the borough’s finances are less problematic. I hear of cuts in staff and closures all around us, but I am pleased to report we continue to find ways of delivering our services more efficiently which means there are no cuts in prospect for us and, indeed, the only cut we have made is in the council tax as a result of a windfall we received, which I felt it was right to pass back to tax payers. I also congratulate the county council, fire service and police for not increasing their proportion of council tax either.
Following on from Bill Cash’s column last week where he mentioned commemorating the First and Second World Wars later in the year, I had previously asked for the Borough War Memorial (which stands outside the Crown Court building) to be substantially renovated.
There will also be a service of re-dedication of the Memorial on Saturday, August 2 which the public are most welcome to attend; this is the nearest Saturday to commemoration of the actual Declaration of War by Britain on Germany on 4 August 1914 as a result of Germany’s invasion of Belgium.