A £64 million fighting fund to repair Bucks’ broken roads and pavements has been agreed by county bosses today – although council tax will rise for the first time in four years.
The investment in roads agreed by Bucks County Council’s cabinet amounts to £15 million per year for the next four years.
Pavements will see an additional £1.7 million for repairs next year, followed by £1 million per year for the following three years.
The decision of the Government to reverse an earlier proposal to remove the New Homes Bonus grant was also welcomed and enabled the level of council tax increase to be reduced from the proposed 1.9% in last December’s draft budget to the current 1.5%.
The New Homes Bonus is a grant paid by central government to local councils for increasing the number of homes in their area.
Cabinet members also reversed or reduced service cuts originally proposed in the draft budget, including the provision of short respite breaks for disabled children, funding for ‘Connexions’, the young people’s advice service, weed spraying and funding to voluntary and community groups.
An extra £200,000 has also been allocated to the children’s services budget to protect vulnerable youngsters.
The 1.5% increase in council tax will see an average increase of 31p per household per week.
The rise comes after the county council had managed to keep council tax frozen for three years, during which inflation has risen by almost 11%.
Leader of the council, Martin Tett, said: “This has been an extraordinarily difficult budget.
“We have had to plan with major uncertainty on the level of central Government funding that we would receive. We have listened to our residents who wanted us to protect the services to the most vulnerable whilst continuing our long term strategy for improving our roads.
“Thanks to the restoration of the New Homes Bonus grant, combined with better than expected council tax receipts, we have managed to both reduce the proposed increase in council tax and continue a major road and pavement repair programme.
He added: “I am aware, however, that the current dreadful weather is doing terrible damage to our roads, and I am discussing whether extra resources need to be made available to help repair them.
“In summary, this budget has been a very difficult balancing act.
“We have tried hard to meet resident’s wishes on pavements, roads and key services, while keeping the council tax increase down to the absolute minimum.”
The final decision on the proposals and overall budget will be agreed by full Council on 13 February.