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Local authority continues to grapple with its financial budget

Leeds County Council has prioritised locals mental health as the authority has recently boycotted plans to introduce parking fees at the city’s parks to keep the greenspaces as a place residents can go without worrying about spending money. 

Over the last few months, Leeds City Council have been contemplating various options to tackle major financial pressures in an attempt to establish a sustainable budget for 2023/24. Part of this includes a decision the local authority were thinking about introducing parking charges at its major and community parks. 

white and brown concrete building surrounded by green grass field under white clouds and blue sky

However, after gauging the publics opinion the council has now decided to not proceed with consultation on this proposal. While their financial position remains challenging, the local authority is now able to propose a balanced budget to Full Council next month.

The local authorities annual budget proposals include a seven per cent increase in housing rents, increasing general council tax by over two per cent and rising energy costs as the levels of inflation continue to soar.

Leeds County Council notes that they may need to revisit new income options in the future due to continuing budget pressures.

Currently, there are 63 community parks in the city and seven major ones, which are all run by Leeds City Council’s parks and countryside service. The greenspaces are comprised of playgrounds, sports pitches and gardens and the local authority agreed they wanted to leave them as completely free of charge so locals and visitors could continue to fully enjoy them.

Overall, the parks and countryside budget figures for the next financial year are a net managed budget of £10.219m and the councils committed to spending over £39m on them over the next 12 months.

Cllr Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles said: ‘We have a firm commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of people in Leeds and ensuring they have access to parks and greenspaces is key to that. 

‘The initial proposals that were scheduled for consultation with the public were to introduce modest charges for car parking at a number of our parks, which would enable improvement works to be carried out as well as contributing to the council’s budgetary pressures.

‘However, having listened to the valuable feedback we have received from residents, we will not be progressing this proposal at this time. 

‘Nonetheless, the financial outlook for all local authorities remains challenging and further work will need to be done to identify further savings and efficiencies for 2024/25 onwards.

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