Winter support

Colchester Borough Council is providing support for residents, businesses and communities throughout winter.

How will we bridge that budget gap?

In October 2022, we ran The Future of Colchester survey to find out what you wanted us to focus on and what services were most important to you. This feedback has helped shape our budget proposals and helped us write the 2023-2026 Strategic Plan: A City fit for the Future.

The Budget Proposals paper was approved by Cabinet in January 2023. The key themes are:

Income generation

  • Mid-year and annual reviews of fees and charges.
  • A review of commercial activities for Colchester Museums and Castle Park.
  • Charging for the Garden Waste Subscription Service and recycling containers/bags.
  • A new Council Tax penalty for fraudulent claims.
  • Implementing commercial opportunities.

Transforming services 

  • Senior Management Team redesign.
  • A new and more efficient service model for Sport and Leisure and Colchester Museums.
  • A new recycling and waste strategy to reduce running costs, a review of non-statutory neighbourhood services.
  • More efficient digital payment, booking and telephone systems.
  • Consolidation of some housing services.
  • Working with partners to deliver community initiatives with their support.


  • A recruitment freeze for non-essential posts.
  • A reduction in overtime budgets and spend.
  • Offering staff temporary reduced working hours.
  • Reviewing delivery of the ground maintenance agreement with Essex County Council.
The 2023/24 budget proposals increase income by some £1.6m, secure efficiencies of £1m through transformation and save a further £0.9m by reducing or stopping services. Much of this work has started and some is already completed.

Transformation is our long-term plan

We have already begun to reduce non-essential spending and are working hard to reduce our overspend and begin to put the council on the right track for the future.

We have some money in our reserves (like a savings account) that will help us in the short term, but the most important thing is that we are proactively working to ensure we live within our means moving forward.

To future proof the council as an organisation, we are putting plans in place to reduce our operating costs by 25% over the next three years (2024-2026). This proposal plan is called the ‘Fit for the Future’ programme and will mean we will reshape what we do and how we deliver our services, ensuring that the council and its services are affordable, fit for the future of the city, and for the people that live, work and visit Colchester. 

The Fit for the Future programme details five key themes:
  • Environment: Including, the introduction of a chargeable garden waste service, delivery of an updated Colchester Waste Strategy to ensure collections are sustainable and fit for our residents and a review of its grounds maintenance contract and street care services to bring around efficiencies.
  • Leisure and Economy: Exploration of a new model to deliver its culture and heritage service, introduction of an admission charge at Hollytrees Museum and a review of its sport and leisure service to put community health and wellbeing at the heart of its vision and delivery.
  • Housing: Establishing a new Housing Board, connecting partners across the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance to provide better partnership working; and delivering a Housing Action Plan to work in partnership across North Essex Councils to tackle pressures on the council budget from the national housing crisis, including the upcoming Housing Summit on 15 February.
  • Assets: To create a clear plan that enables us to understand and leverage the assets contained within our whole estate, enabling sound financial and risk-based decisions to be made and to adopt a ‘corporate landlord model’ which will streamline operations by consolidating management and maintenance under a centralised corporate landlord team within the council.
  • Corporate: Colchester, Braintree and Epping Forest councils are working together to look at how they can find new ways to operate and harness the skills and similarities across the three councils to help future proof their organisations through a shared services approach: delivery of a new Workplace Strategy to support employees through this period of transition and change and ensure we have the skills we need to deliver our services, and investment in our digital customer journey to fullY embrace our online processes.
The Fit for the Future report will be discussed at Cabinet on 13 March 2024 before a decision is made at Full Council later in spring 2024.

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