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Unanimous Approval for Council Budget

February 9, 2019 9:50 AM

CoinsThe budget put forward by Mayor Dave Hodgson and his cabinet won unanimous approval at Bedford Borough Council's budget Full Council meeting this week, with every councillor from all parties and independents voting in favour.

In the face of ongoing, brutal cuts in government funding for the council, the budget maintains Mayor Dave's remarkable record of saving services, in stark contrast with the situation in other councils nearby and across the country.

Bedford Borough Council's main government grant has fallen from £30m in 2015 to under £6m in the year to come. In his comments at the meeting, Mayor Dave drew comparison between the retention of services here and the widespread cuts and closures elsewhere. These include the 127 further library closures which took place last year alone, while Bedford Borough Council has not only retained all of its libraries but has even increased opening hours in some cases.

The Conservative Group Leader also commented during the debate that "The grip the council has over its finances is impressive, especially compared to other councils of all political parties."

Commenting after the meeting, Mayor Dave Hodgson thanked the Conservative leader for his comments and added: "We have fought hard over these years of massive, ongoing government cuts in our funding to save services that have been lost elsewhere.

This budget once again saves services and facilities, has more money for care for the elderly and vulnerable and keeps council tax down.

I'm pleased that councillors across all parties and independents endorsed our approach in the face of the huge challenges we're contending with."

Highlights of the 2019/20 Bedford Borough Council budget approved unanimously this week include:

  • No closures of libraries, despite another 127 branches closed across the country last year
  • A below-inflation core council tax increase of 1.49%
  • Additional funding for adult social care services, supporting the most vulnerable in our communities.
  • Cultural and leisure facilities and services protected.
  • Protecting subsidised bus routes
  • No closures of children's centres
  • Funding for five new sets of average speed cameras, to be installed where local communities want them.

In addition to the core council tax precept increase of 1.49%, there is also a 1% adult social care precept, which the government introduced instead of providing the additional funding that councils need to care for our ageing population.