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Suffolk County Council moves to fill holes in its roads and budget

A pothole awaiting 'reactive repair' near West Row
A pothole awaiting 'reactive repair' near West Row

Suffolk County Council plans to borrow £21 million to resurface and repair the county’s roads over three years.

The move is part of budget plans before the county’s Cabinet next Tuesday, along with increases in council tax to cover social care in spite of having to find cuts to bridge a £26.8 million funding gap.

The county plans to spend an additional £21 million on road repairs, borrowing it at ‘low interest rates’ from the Public Works Loan Board for repayment over 15 years.

It says the move makes sound financial sense because the extra £40 million will avoid the need to spend more on ‘reactive maintenance’ in future. It will be allocated where there is the greatest need, if it is approved by Cabinet and then by the full council in February.

Jane Storey, the council’s deputy leader and interim cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “All local authorities need to plan how to use their budgets to make every penny count.

“Because we have always planned our finances carefully, we’re now in a position and believe the time is right to invest this additional £21m in maintaining our roads.

“Investing this money now ensures that our roads stay solid for longer and make using them a far better experience for everyone.”

The county’s proposed budget for 2018 to 19 is for £443,348,685, after making an estimated £23.9 million savings on top of the £236 million of savings it has made since 2011.

In that time its staffing levels have dropped from 10,456 to 5,239.

But the proposal is to increase general council tax by 1.99 per cent, bringing the band D tax up to £1,150.

But in addition to that, the county is taking advantage of a change the Government made last year, which allows councils to raise the Social Care Precept by three per cent, instead of two per cent, in this and the next financial years. That will add another £92.48 to the band D tax.

The council’s ‘Our Priotities 2017-21’ document laid out 10 service transformation programmes dealing with adult and child social care, travel, infrastructure and ‘digital business’.

The report to Cabinet on the budget says these programmes are intended to deliver services to ‘provide better outcomes for individuals’ as well as cash savings.

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