‘State of Ashfield Debate’ to discuss next steps after cost of living emergency declared

Ashfield District Council headquarters.
By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter

An extraordinary meeting will be held at Ashfield District Council so councillors can discuss ways to address the cost of living crisis.

It will also give members of the council’s administration ideas and plans when setting the 2023/24 budget related to support for struggling households.

It comes in response to the Ashfield Independent-led authority declaring a ‘cost of living emergency’ earlier this year.

The declaration, made in July, called on the Government to offer greater support to residents and pledged to hold a special meeting addressing the issue.

Now the authority is to hold the ‘State of Ashfield Debate’ and councillors will discuss support measures with local organisations.

The meeting, in the council chamber from 7pm on December 8, will feature a speech from Citizen’s Advice Ashfield.

It will also include talks from local transport organisation Our Centre and community resource hub Under One Roof.

There will also be talks from the authority’s chief executive Theresa Hodgkinson and a 45-minute question and answer session.

It will end with a 15-minute summation by Councillor Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), the authority’s leader, and a discussion of ‘next steps’ to tackle the crisis.

The meeting will begin with a speech from Cllr David Walters (Ash Ind) the current chairman of the authority.

Papers reveal he will say: “The purpose of the meeting is to enable the leader and his cabinet to gather information on the issues and matters which are of concern to members.

“[These are issues that] can be considered as part of the preparations for business planning and the proposals for the council’s budget and policy framework for the forthcoming year.”

Since the cost of living emergency was declared, the council has launched an online hub signposting residents to support services.

This brings together information and guidance split across areas such as benefits, council tax and housing support.

It also outlines help for businesses, support with money, bills, debt and health and wellbeing, and it directs residents to help from other bodies.

There is also a new ‘Feeding Ashfield’ service collecting resources and information for organisations helping residents with food insecurity and poverty.

Both services are available on the authority’s website.

Robert Docherty, director for place and communities, previously said: “Everyone is struggling right now and the council will do anything we can to alleviate this for residents and businesses.”

Speaking after the cost of living emergency was declared, Cllr Zadrozny added: “This cannot be a motion for bells and whistles before it disappears.

“I’m committing that the State of Ashfield Debate will be entirely based on the cost of living.

We will be working with outside partners and bringing them in, to see how we can work with them to support them, and how they can do more to support our residents as we hit the winter.

“This is a major problem and one of a generation, something people don’t survive in many ways, and it’s going to be catastrophic for many families and pensioners.”

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