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Council Budget Passed With Unanimous, All-Party Support

February 13, 2018 8:09 PM

Mayor Dave Hodgson's Cabinet's budget has been approved with unanimous support from all councillors, of all parties plus independents.

The unanimous approval comes at a time when news headlines are being made by nearby councils hitting severe financial crisis, while other areas are seeing more and more drastic cuts to services proposed such as three weekly bin collections, for example, and widespread library closures.

The main government funding for the Council is being cut from £30.1 million in 2015/16 to just £5.8 million in 2019/20, yet in the face of these brutal funding cuts the budget protects services and puts the most vulnerable first.

The Council is also prioritising investment in a number of areas to make Bedford Borough a better place to live, work and do business. Specific proposals include:

  • Investment in Transport Infrastructure

The Transporting Bedford 2020 Programme will see the biggest ever investment in Bedford Borough's Road Network including traffic improvements to junctions across Bedford. In total £18.6 million will be invested. Further investment is also being put forward for maintaining our existing roads amounting to £19.6 million. Traffic issues around Manton Lane will also see funding of £3.5 million for improvements.

  • Supporting the Most Vulnerable

In addition to the £5m extra funding in adult social care, there is £5.6 million for disabled facility grants to help people to stay in their own homes and £2.5m to complete the refurbishment of the Council's residential care homes.

  • Supporting Jobs

As well as the necessary highways works to make Bedford Borough a great place for business there is specific investment of £2.7m in the i-Worx and i-Hub. This includes providing units to support smaller local engineering businesses with a facility designed to develop skills in engineering. The local Jobs Hub has been retained to help even more people get help and support in the Borough in applying for jobs.

  • Investing in our Local Schools

A total of £59 million to be invested including completing the 2 tier transition currently taking place, new schools places and replacing temporary classrooms with permanent buildings.

Commenting on his Facebook page immediately following the meeting, Mayor Dave Hodgson said:

"Our Council budget has been passed tonight with unanimous support from every Councillor, of all parties plus Independents.

In the face of massive government funding cuts - with our main grant cut from over £30m in 2015 to under £6m in 2019 - it's a budget which protects those in need, with extra funding for care for the elderly and vulnerable, for example.

It also includes investment in our children's future with all temporary classrooms we inherited being replaced and new capacity to avert the school places crisis seen elsewhere.

I'm glad our careful financial management is recognised across the council, especially when we don't have to look far to see a nearby Council literally facing financial collapse.

And while we've had to take decisions we don't want to in the face of the government cuts, elsewhere we hear of ever more drastic cuts being proposed every week, such as widespread library closures or three-weekly bin collections.

We'll keep fighting to protect services as far as possible, and put local communities first."