Councillor Gale Waller has shared the following message after being elected as Rutland County Council's new Leader:
First, may I say I am honoured and humbled to be elected Leader of this small but perfectly formed Council. I have been a councillor in Rutland for 12 years, for Normanton ward, and prior to that I worked in local councils and for respected bodies such as the Audit Commission and the Local Government Association.
Rutland, like all councils, is facing a number of challenges. Government grants reduce year on year as successive governments expect us to raise more and more money through council tax. And, like you, the Council sees costs rising; not least in the contracts we have with private companies for services such as waste collection. The Council is currently balancing its books by using reserves but this is not sustainable and we need to be in a position to live within our means.
We also have a number of contracts having to be renewed over the next few months and some of these renewals may result in services being changed. I, and my cabinet colleagues, will ensure that any proposed changes are consulted on as we want to run a Council that is open and transparent and where consultation means listening and reflecting not asking for views then ignoring.
The Council is also in the process of producing a Local Plan, something dear to the hearts of very many residents. I would urge everyone to offer their comments when the next stage of consultation (known as Regulation 18 consultation) begins in late autumn, as this is the time when significant changes to the proposals can be made - not when it gets to the draft plan consultation stage (Regulation 19). I would also encourage all parish councils, including the two town councils, to respond to the Regulation 18 consultation and ask residents to encourage their parish councils to respond.
It is an exciting time, though, and we have opportunities too such as those offered by the Levelling Up Fund in respect of public transport and health provision in Rutland.
As a new administration our immediate priority is to be open and transparent so that all residents can understand why we are doing what we are doing. As councillors, we exist only to serve the people of Rutland; to fulfil our statutory duties and do what we can to make Rutlanders’ lives the best they can be.
Councillor Gale Waller, Leader of Rutland County Council