A report detailing the performance of Rother District Council (RDC) and its aims for the next financial year has been published online.
The annual report looks at how the council has performed against its four key priorities – creating an efficient, flexible and effective council, supporting sustainable economic prosperity, creating stronger, safer communities and creating a quality physical environment.
As well as outlining the ‘highlights’ of 2014-15, it also shows where the authority needs to make improvements.
In 2014-15, dog fouling reports almost doubled from 33 in 2013-14 to 64. The council set a target of 45 reports.
The average number of days it took to process major planning applications rose to 175 days – up from 136 days and 83 days over the 92-day target.
The council also needs to improve both the time taken to process new housing benefit applications and changes in circumstances.
In 2014-15, the number of days taken to process new applications rose from 24 days to 33 days – the council’s target was 24.
The number of days taken to process a change in circumstances also rose from 14 to 18 days – the council’s target was 16 days.
Litter found on public land – the percentage of public land found to have ‘unacceptable’ levels of litter – rose from 0.56 per cent to just over 5.5 per cent.
However, the council only just missed its five per cent target.
Success stories in the report included an increase in the amount of household waste reused or recycled since the start of the district’s new waste contract.
It highlights the reduction in the number of missing children reported at Camber, thanks to the success of the wristband scheme, and the support offered to community groups with the help of grants totalling £93,379.
Funding for small businesses in rural areas is also mentioned with the council applying for and receiving a total of £57,000 funding from the department for environment, food and rural affairs and East Sussex County Council to prepare a bid for £1.7m funding under the new European Union programme.
The report also talks about improvements made in the way the council communicates with residents, which includes better use of social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, and the introduction of My Alerts – a weekly email service sharing relevant information with those who sign up.
Councillor Carl Maynard, Rother District Council leader, said: “The past year has presented us with some difficult financial challenges.
“Despite this, we have continued to deliver a full range of services to our residents.
“The annual report shows how we have worked on various services to ensure that our priorities are being met.
“It also sets out how we will continue to do this in the coming financial year.”
RDC said there are a number of projects planned for 2015/16 including improving its website and creating more efficient and effective telephone systems.
Development opportunities will also be explored, including the delivery of an affordable housing scheme in Burwash, two supported housing schemes in Bexhill and Rye, a business park in north east Bexhill, and drawing up plans for the Old Bexhill High School site to include a new leisure centre.
Cllr Maynard added: “While we continue to have to identify and make savings, we want to make sure that we don’t lose sight of our agreed priorities.
“We will continue to do everything we can to achieve our aims while offering best value for money to our residents.”
The annual report also includes a financial summary for 2014/15 with net budgets shown for 2015/16.
One of the biggest changes is in environmental services which sees the net budget drop by £513,270 – from £4,807,110 in 2014/15 to £4,293,840 in 2015/16.
The biggest increase is in housing services which sees its net budget rise by £72,740 – from £1,013,550 in 2014/15 to £1,086,290 in 2015/16.
Other operating income and expenditure is predicted to change by around £187,740 – from £1,414,960 in 2014/15 to £1,227,220 in 2015/16.
A copy of the full annual report can be found at www.rother.gov.uk/corporateplan.
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