Council stays On target

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FOREST Heath is set to meet most of the targets it set itself as it enters the final year of its four-year corporate plan.

The district’s Council Plan 2011, published this week, reports on progress since 2008 and targets for the coming year.

Only in housing has the economic climate held it back.

The council had set a 2012 target for a quarter of new homes to be ‘affordable’, to have fewer homeless and empty properties and to have more private sector homes meet the Decent Homes Standard. But the plan says: “The affects of the recession and current state of the housing market has impacted on our ability to deliver.”

Fewer affordable new homes have been started than expected and the homeless rose to 57 in 2010/11 from 31 the year before.

Last year, 85 of the target 90 affordable homes were built. But instead of the target five per cent reduction in people on the housing register, they increased by six per cent, or 77 people.

A private sector leasing scheme, where the council works with local landlords to put people on the housing list into rented homes, ‘did not develop as well as we would have liked’ so it will be relaunched with a new provider.

Crime levels continue to drop and after several successful projects last year the council has £6,000 of funding for ‘intervention activities’ to prevent public safety issues becoming problems.

The plan says the district’s economy shows growth with more visitors and fewer jobless. Support for business will continue with plans for a retail association in Mildenhall and for business-to-business events and job fairs.

Environmental targets are met with more recycling and less flytipping. This year they hope to start household food waste collections and install solar panels at the council offices.

Council leader James Waters said: “We’ve made some serious changes and we’ve done well but we’ve still got things to do. We’ve got to move forward in challenging times and our key thing is to keep delivering as many services we can to the best quality we can. That may mean we have to look at restructuring in council offices to get best value.”