Record roads spending is centrepiece of new budget
An extra £20m - the biggest ever single increase in highways spending - was the centrepiece of Nottinghamshire County Council's budget, agreed today (28 February 2018).
Councillors voted through proposals which will see £142m in capital spending on the county's roads between 1 April this year and 31 March 2022 - an increase of £20m on the previous allocation.
The additional funding will come from savings to the Council's capital programme, including £13m previously earmarked for building extra care developments, after an alternative way of providing at least the same number of extra care places was identified.
The money has been allocated to road improvements as a direct response to concerns raised by Nottinghamshire residents and will be particularly targeted at improvements to safety and the condition of roads in residential areas - those used by people every day.
The roads selected for investment will be those assessed as being likely to deteriorate in the next few years, with a view to saving money that would have been required for repairs in the longer term. Full details more than 100 roads across the county to be targeted using the new funding in the first 12 months will be announced tomorrow (1 March 2018).
Councillor Richard Jackson, Chairman of Finance and Major Contracts Management Committee, presented today's budget to Full Council. He said: "Comments and complaints about the condition of our roads dominate the mailbags of councillors from every part of the county.
"The extra £20m for highways capital improvements will take total spending to £142m over the next four years and is the biggest single increase ever made by the Council to roads spending. We've found a way of doing this whilst still being able to deliver the existing commitment to provide 1,015 housing with care places by 2021 as part of our strategy of helping older people live independently at home as long as possible with reduced care needs."
The extra spending on roads forms part of a £390m capital programme focused on infrastructure improvements in every part of Nottinghamshire. Among the commitments are:
- £353,000 investment in facilities at Brooke Farm in Linby, a training hub for adults with disabilities to learn skills for employment
- An additional £2.5m for a replacement Orchard School in Newark, increasing the total Council investment to £7.5m
- £5.8m for a new school in Bestwood as part of £15m for new school places countywide
- A new £2.5m recycling centre for Rushcliffe
- An extra £2.6m to provide access to superfast broadband in rural areas
- Confirmation of a further £5.4m for the new Gedling Access Road
A proposed 2.99% increase in council tax and 2% adult social care precept will raise £16.4m to protect vital social care and other important services, including those helping to reduce strain on the NHS. However, with a cut in main grant funding from Government of £21.8m, the Council will have less money to spend in total.
Councillor Jackson expressed his regret at recommending a council tax increase but said with a £109m cut in Government funding since 2013/14 and growing pressures on social care services for the elderly and vulnerable children means the authority simply has no other option.
Councillor Jackson said: “Our budgets are being squeezed more than ever before by the spiraling costs of providing social care for older people and children and significant, on-going reductions in what the Government gives us to provide services to local people. This has left us facing a predicted budget shortfall of £55m by 2021/21, despite the £255m we have already saved in running costs since 2010.
"The increase will mean bills going up by around £1 per week for the majority of households in the county and is in line with increases at many other county councils, all facing similar challenges. Only 5 of the 27 shire county councils are levying a lower rise, with 11 increasing by a greater amount than the 4.99% in Nottinghamshire."
"We don’t want to increase council tax, the public doesn’t want us to increase council tax, but we simply have no choice if we’re going to continue to protect social care services and, in turn, prevent further strain on the NHS.”
The budget report is available to download from the Nottinghamshire County Council website