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Council sets out changes in revised budget
Friday 14th July 2017 @ 14:29 by Adam Higgins
Derbyshire News

An extra £6m to improve roads and a £3m boost to public transport are just two changes being proposed in a revised budget to be considered by Derbyshire County Council.

After the Conservatives took control of the county council from Labour following the elections in May, a revised budget for 2017-18 and plans for later years have been drafted to reflect new priorities.

Cllr Barry Lewis, DCC Leader, said: “The proposed revised budget would see the authority on target to meet its budget savings in the next five years and allow for a council tax freeze for two years (2020-21 and 2021-22).

“There is work to do and we have already identified areas where savings could be made without impacting on service delivery.”

The proposed revised budget, to be considered by the council’s Cabinet next Thursday (July 20), includes:

• allocating an extra £6m for highways maintenance, including resurfacing roads and fixing potholes – resulting in an additional £16.5m being spent over the next five years
• putting back £3.1m over two years (2018-19 and 2019-20) into public and community transport – reversing a previous budget saving and resulting in an additional £11.9m over the next five years
• a planned Council Tax freeze for 2020-21 and 2021-22 (previously planned as a 2% increase)
• additional money from the Government’s improved Better Care Fund – an extra £16.2m for 2017-18 for adult social care services, including supporting people coming out of hospital
• reversing a previous budget saving of £79,000 to arts grants and putting in a further £125,000
• £1m for 750 Youth Activity Grants, 750 Derbyshire Sport and Community Action Grants and 500 community safety projects, Neighbourhood Watch schemes and anti-fraud initiatives.

The proposed council tax freeze, with additional budget pressures, would mean an £85m savings target for the council over the next five years, which it is on target to meet.

“The council’s priorities have changed since the May elections and this needs to be reflected in the current budget and the Five Year Financial Plan,” Cllr Lewis said.

“We know improving the county’s roads is a priority for people so we’re putting an extra £6m over three years into the highways maintenance budget. More potholes will be fixed faster and more roads can be resurfaced.

“We’re also reversing public transport cuts which would have had a huge impact on vulnerable isolated people in rural communities.”

Councillor Lewis added: “The council is on track to achieve the necessary budget savings, and we plan to be able to freeze council tax in three years time.

“We’re cutting out waste, putting money back in to services people expect and exploring different ways of doing things.

“We’ve already reduced allowances for councillors holding Cabinet Member and Cabinet Support Member positions by an average of 12 per cent and we’re considering doing without the role of Chief Executive and reducing our top management team to save more than £300,000 per year.

“We’re also using some of the council’s reserves to ensure that valuable services continue to deliver for the people of Derbyshire.”

The Cabinet will be asked to consider the report and make recommendations to Full Council to consider on Wednesday, September 13.