South Holland District Council offices.

Council team’s £276k overspend

A district council department overspend increased to more than a quarter of a million pounds in the third quarter of this financial year.

In the South Holland District Council financial report for Q3, the £276,000 Environmental Services overspend was put down to factors including the last year’s car park payment machines debacle, loss of market stall income, a reduction in uptake of the garden waste scheme and operational factors resulting from the hot summer.

The report states there was a loss of £63k in car park income over the time the machines were shelved for a consultation on payment.

A council spokesman said there is an end in sight for the car parking machines: “Following the consultation which went through Cabinet last week (March 12), we have now agreed to install card and cash machines to six additional Spalding car parks in the coming weeks”.

The spokesman also said the council is in talks with Lincolnshire County Council about a joint partnership that would have officers monitor both on-road parking and car parks.

The report said the department’s Salary Efficiency Target is “currently unachievable”, with an extra £49k spent during the quarter.

Another large shortfall came with the garden waste scheme, which the report states is “due to reduced take up and changes in service provision”. A £42k shortfall was reported but the council said the scheme is not running at a loss nor is it forecast to do so. “The heatwave over the summer of 2018 saw a national trend in the reduction of usage of garden waste collection. The scheme runs across 20 different routes, each with their own unique list of subscribers and area of responsibility.

“Some of these routes are now at capacity whilst space remains on others. We continue to see interest and support for the scheme and we continue to monitor demand to ensure that we can accommodate as many interested residents as possible.

“The change in provision came from the expansion of the scheme last year, which saw more residents move from paper sacks across to having bins.”

The report also states “increasing fuel costs” put the spending up by £45k, and, as previously reported, an extra £16k was spent on water for road sweepers this summer.

Market stall rental is also down, with a £24k reduction “due to a decreased uptake of market stall rentals throughout the year”, according to the report.

A council spokesman said: “Our markets are a crucial aspect of South Holland’s history, and also its future. We will be working with existing stallholders and residents to ensure that we give them the support they need to develop and flourish, so they continue to be a place for local businesses to sell, a sociable and appealing meeting place for residents and a major attraction to towns across the district.”

“Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, portfolio holder for place said: “Our Environmental Services team continue to work hard to ensure that the district’s waste and recycling is collected weekly, its facilities, car parks and markets continue to support resident’s needs and litter, graffiti, fly-tips and other untidy areas across the district are tackled by our Pride team.”

Of the 13 departments listed in the report, six overspent and the rest underspent, with planning reporting a £292k underspend for the quarter.

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