Whitley Pump - May 2016

Whitley Pump roundabout

Reading Borough Council (RBC) has a schedule of charges for everything from overdue library book fines to planning fees and advertising on the Whitley Pump roundabout. The list covers 26 pages and is a fascinating insight into the minutiae of local government, Reading style.

The council will discuss proposed fees and charges for the year commencing 1 April 2020 at the  full council meeting on 25 February. This is part of the RBC’s budget for next year and the medium term financial strategy until 2023.

RBC say they must reduce costs by £6.3 million and increase income by £5.3 million next year. They expect over £4 million of savings from efficiencies in childrens’ services, which are now managed by Brighter Futures for Children. Some of the additional income the council needs will come from increasing fees and charges.

Fees and charges that may stay the same

The council proposes no increase in garden waste collection fees, which will remain at £60 per bin (£45 for concessions) and £20 for a green bag (£15 for concessions). RBC increased all these charges by 10% or more in 2019/20. The council’s budget for the next three years anticipates additional take-up of green waste collections and an increase in charges in 2021/22 and 2022/23.

Inside the new Whitley Library

Inside the new Whitley Library, in the South Reading Community hub

Reading Borough Libraries are increasing very few of their charges, but they plan for overdue fees for adult books to go up by 1p to 28p per day, with a maximum charge of £10.

None of Reading’s licence fees should increase except for private hire, executive and school transport vehicles, advertising A-boards and caravan site licences for more than 30 units.

No sport and leisure fees will increase, although Reading’s leisure landscape will probably change after the council awarded the contract for management of RBC’s leisure facilities to Greenwich Leisure.

Mooring charges remain at £9.50 for 24 hours and £4 for up to four hours. There are moorings for boats at Chestnut Walk, Christchurch Meadows, Coal Woodlands (near Tescos) and Queen’s Road.

You will still be able to advertise on the Whitley Pump roundabout for £4,800 per year; other advertising prices vary but the council plans no increase.

And finally, spending a penny will still cost 40p.

Public toilets in the snow

Whitley Street public toilets in the snow

Fees and charges that may go down

There is good news for researchers at the Berkshire Record Office; they propose to halve the cost of self-service photography to £1. This reverses last year’s doubling of the fee. All other fees remain the same except for copies of marriage certificates dated after 1837, which will cost £11 in future, an increase in £1.

Fees and charges that may go up

The fee with the biggest percentage increase, at 308%, is for a caravan site licence for more than 30 units, which will be £1,298.

RBC proposes increases of between 1.8% and 3.4% on all streetcare fees apart from green waste charges. Dog wardens plan to increase their fees for picking up dogs and keeping them in kennels.

Reading Museum would like to increase fees for its reminiscence scheme by 5.9% leaving all other fees the same. Reading Town Hall have made some significant adjustments to their pricing schedule including room hire for the Concert Hall that increases by 8.2%, starting from £2,694 per day.

Bereavement services have the longest list of fees and charges, taking up four pages of the 26 page schedule. Almost all charges increased last year and the same is true this year. There are also some new fees, including a £600 surcharge for a cremation on a Sunday or bank holiday.

The registration service intends to increase the cost of individual citizenship ceremonies again this year. These will be £115 for Monday to Thursday and £159 on Friday and Saturday. From 1 April, getting married at the new ceremony room at Reading Town Hall will cost £160 on Monday to Thursday, and £267 on Friday and Saturday. The £485 fee for Sundays and bank holidays remains unchanged. Most other registrar service fees remain the same.

Allotment rental

Waterloo Meadows Allotments

Allotment rental will increase by about 3% but, as the allotment year starts from 1 January, this increase has already been implemented. When we asked the council about this in December they said:

We appreciate this is confusing when it appears within the Council’s budget lines which begin with our fiscal year in April. This is something we will be looking to address in future.

The allotment tenancy agreement allows for small inflationary increases such as this, but it has not always been levied.

RBC planned a larger allotment rental increase last year, and are considering it again this year. They have to carry out a consultation with tenants of they want to do this. The council told us:

…in the Council’s medium term financial strategy, we have proposed a more substantial and larger increase for allotments and this is the increase in which we will … consult upon in the coming year with all allotment users, beginning in Spring 2020.

As part of this consultation, we hope to creatively consider other ways in which we can work together to realise the necessary savings… to avoid a significant increase in fees to allotment holders.

The budgets for 2021/22 and 2022/23 show savings of £100k in both years from a ‘fundamental service review’ of parks and street cleansing.

New fees

RBC propose a new fee of £80 covering skip permits on the public highway as well as the first two weeks licence; thereafter there is a small increase in weekly permit fees from £35 to £36.

There may be a new fee of £34.40 for a licensed driver’s DBS check, and an increase to £52.40 for an enhanced DBS check for certain categories of driver.

The planning department would like to increase almost all fees, but not those relating to landscaping, works to trees covered by tree preservation orders and householder advice on extensions or small developments.

The full council meeting, chaired by the mayor, Church ward councillor Paul Woodward, will take place in the Civic Offices, Bridge Street, RG1 2LU and is expected to be webcast.

  1. Reading Borough Council full council meeting 25 February papers & webcast
  2. Brighter Futures for Children
  3. Oscar Night at the RBC Policy Committe: the winner is Greenwich Leisure!
  4. Berkshire Record Office
  5. Reading Museum & Reading Town Hall
  6. Reading Borough Council
    1. Births, Deaths and Marriages
    2. Skip permits
    3. Trees
    4. Lost or Stray Dogs
    5. Libraries
    6. Garden waste collection service
    7. Advertising and sponsorship
    8. Mooring