Council's case for funding

PUBLISHED: 12:42 01 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:10 28 May 2010

Cllr Mac Cotterell

Cllr Mac Cotterell

Fenland District Council is throwing its weight behind a new report to Government highlighting the plight of rural local authorities whose costs for delivering services are greater than urban areas. Fenland is one of 60 most rural authorities in Britain w

Fenland District Council is throwing its weight behind a new report to Government highlighting the plight of rural local authorities whose costs for delivering services are greater than urban areas.

Fenland is one of 60 most rural authorities in Britain which has formed a coalition called SPARSE to highlight the cost implications to Government of delivering services to widely-dispersed rural communities.

The report also highlights that countryside councils receive less Government grant than urban counterparts, which means the burden of higher council tax is compounded by delivering services to far-flung villages and rural communities.

The report comes ahead of the Government's intention to publish a White Paper on local government reform in the autumn and SPARSE is pressing ministers to change the local government finance system to take account of the extra costs of providing services in rural areas and the needs of countryside communities.

The report is the result of a study into the costs of delivering services in highly rural areas. The study used Shropshire County Council, South Shropshire District Council and the East Riding of Yorkshire Council as case studies.

One surprising finding was a 90 per cent premium on the cost of refuse and recycling collection when compared with urban areas.

Despite the surprise at the size of the premium, Fenland has managed to become widely acknowledged, nationally, as leading the field in waste collection and recycling. Nevertheless, the council recognises that parity with urban areas will enable Fenland to make even greater achievements in this area.

SPARSE is urging Government to use Scotland's funding formula because it recognises cost implications of delivering services in rural areas.

Councillor Mac Cotterell, portfolio holder with responsibility for council links with SPARSE, said: "While Fenland has demonstrated excellent financial management to deliver quality services, we recognise that in the area of Government funding we are operating with one hand tied behind our back. Fenland is one of the coalition that makes up SPARSE and we would like to put our weight behind the call for a more fair funding system for rural authorities.

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