New commercial approach by Ashford Borough Council

Published: 03/08/2020
News article entitled New commercial approach by Ashford Borough Council

Ashford Borough Council has outlined how they are looking to take their approach to commercialisation onto the next level.

The council has been successful in the past on a fairly small scale, but with uncertainty over future Government funding, a considerable budget impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and a refocusing on future priorities, this work is now being accelerated after Cabinet endorsed a Commercialisation Strategy.

The council believes it has a great opportunity to fundamentally change how we do business and deliver services in the future, which not only supports our community and economy to recover locally, but also helps to bring in income to protect our front line services.

With the impact of COVID-19 on the community continuing to be felt, this work is even more relevant due to the additional financial pressures dealing with the crisis has caused. 

By being more commercially minded, we are putting our customers at the heart of everything we do when thinking about how we provide services, and any income generated will be reinvested into service provision.

The council has always been keen to be self-sufficient and manage its finances prudently and this is ever more critical. Other future changes to central government funding, offers increased risks to the council’s budget but also potential opportunities arising from the localisation of business rates. However, with a delay in the Governments Fair Funding review (2021/22) and the financial future uncertain, we will need to do everything we can to support our finances ourselves.

The council acknowledges the challenges that it faces, but also views the current funding picture as an opportunity to affect fundamental changes to how we do business; with improvements to services we deliver as a result.

Leader of the council, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, said: “As a council we have always been pro-active in the management of our finances. We have always explored our commercial investment and development opportunities to enable us be a dynamic and entrepreneurial council.

“This strategy sets out our approach to further develop commercial opportunities through our services and diversifying our offer where further opportunities become available.

“The proposed strategy will form a part of the council’s response to the budget deficits identified in the Medium Term Financial Plan and will support us in our continued delivery of the quality services that our residents need.”

Initially service areas like Lifeline, CCTV, parking, garden waste, category and contract management, Aspire Landscape Management and our in house electrical services team will be looked at first, and other areas will be explored over time.