Nottinghamshire’s neglected roads are set for a £20m upgrade- but council tax could increase by 2.99 per cent as a result.
An extra £20m will be added to Nottinghamshire County Council’s highways capital programme from 2018/19 to 2021/22, bringing Nottinghamshire County Council’s capital roads investment up to £142m over the period - its highest level in more than a decade.
The extra money for roads is part of the 2018/19 budget proposals announced today (Monday, January 29).
But the budget also includes a proposed 2.99 per cent increase in council tax and 2 per cent adult social care precept.
The Council say the increase will be less than £1 per week for the majority of households in the county and will “ensure vital social care and other important services are retained”.
The highways investment will be focused on roads assessed as being likely to deteriorate in the next few years on a “right repair at the right time” basis, with a view to saving money that would have been required for repairs in the longer term.
Roads in residential areas, some of which have been neglected for many years, will be targetted.
This could include schemes to improve the road surface and new safety features where they are required such as pedestrian crossings and interactive speed signs on routes used every day by people to get to and from home.
Announcing the new highways funding today, Councillor Richard Jackson, chairman of Finance and Major Contracts Management Committee, said: “We’ve listened to local people’s priorities and I’m proud to announce that we’re investing an additional £20m in the county’s highways network over the next four years.
“Many of the roads we will be targeting will have not seen any meaningful work to them in years. Residential roads – the roads we all use every day to get to and from home – will be specifically targeted. We’re bringing the improvements to a road near you.
“We will aim to ensure the schemes provide the best possible value for money by making the right repair at the right time to avoid larger repair bills in years to come, reduce compensation claims and help our economy by cutting congestion.
“Making our roads safer will also be a key aim - there is a long wish list of safety schemes that communities have asked for in the past which may now be possible.
“With 2,600 miles of roads in our network, we know this money won’t solve every problem. But it is a good start and sets us in the right direction when it comes to getting the quality, safer road network for Nottinghamshire we all want.”
Councillor Jackson has expressed his regret at “recommending a council tax increase for the first time as a county councillor” but said 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”.
Coun Jackson added: “I was proud to be part of the last Conservative administration at Nottinghamshire County Council, which froze council tax every year from 2009 to 2013.
“We put in place huge, transformational programmes to eradicate waste and engrain a value-for-money culture which has saved £255m in running costs since 2010.
“There is always more we can do – and will continue to do – so that we are more efficient and provide better value for taxpayers. But we’re being squeezed more than ever before by the spiralling 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 what we have already saved.
“Regretfully this means we must ask local people to pay more to keep these services going. 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.”
It is being recommended that the Finance and Major Contracts Management Committee increases Council Tax by 2.99 per cent from April, after the Government increased the cap on what Councils could charge from 2 per cent to 3 per cent in recognition of the “severe financial strain” on Councils.
A 2 per cent adult social care precept to go towards safeguarding social care services for the elderly and disabled is also being proposed.
Combined, the adult social care precept and council tax increase will raise £16.4m for local public services. However, this still falls short of the £21.8m reduction in Government funding the County Council faces next year.
The Finance and Major Contracts Committee meets on Tuesday, February 6 to consider the report.
The final budget will be set at Full Council on 28 February.