Budget struggles at Chelmsford Council but Lib Dems plan new projects

22 Feb 2024
Chelmsford Council chamber

Chelmsford City Council has agreed a budget for 2024/25 that helps address the housing crisis, the climate and ecology emergency, and supports stronger communities - despite facing the biggest ever financial pressures.

The worst part of the housing crisis is 300 Chelmsford children living in hotels or other unsatisfactory emergency housing. Lib Dem Leader Stephen Robinson explains more in the video clip here.

The City Council was facing a shortfall compared to the current year of £7.55m, mainly caused by the rising costs of homelessness (an extra £3.7m), general inflation (£1.7m) and rising construction costs (£1m).

The Council has filled that gap from a combination of extra income from charges and council tax, spending reductions and hoping that promised Government support does come about.

Without more funding from central government, next year is the last time the Council will be able to balance the finances without making significant changes to services. Like every other local authority in the country, the council is tackling the most difficult budget position it has ever faced, leaving its financial position severely challenged.

Said Lib Dem Leader Stephen Robinson:

"Although the revenue (cash) budget is under severe pressure, the capital (investment) programme remains ambitious in support of Lib Dem plans for a greener, fairer and more connected Chelmsford. So we will

  • continue the plan to plant one tree for every resident of Chelmsford;
  • build 58 geuninely affordable family homes;
  • support more families who are homeless (including 24 modular units for single homeless people with CHESS);
  • upgrade floodlights at Chelmer Park;
  • modernise the pool heating system to save energy at South Woodham Ferrers;
  • improve facilities at the museum, indoor market, children's play areas and two key city centre car parks;
  • upgrade office blocks that we own (to generate more rent in future) and the lighting at Hylands Stables car park."

Cllr Robinson also explained why we should take action on climate change see speech here, and that the housing crisis has been caused by thirty years of Conservatives and Labour not building enough homes (speech extract here). 

Cllr Lynne Foster explained that the budget for homelessness costs has been set on the assumption of an increase from 464 cases at the end of November to 620 by the end of March 2025. See her speech here.

The budget was discussed at Cabinet on 30th January and at Full Council on 21st February. You can read a summary report on the Council website and download the full budget papers here.