Posted: Mon 14th Mar 2016

Council Sets Its Priorities And Financial Strategy Including £9.5m New Capital Investment

This article is old - Published: Monday, Mar 14th, 2016

Bridgend County Borough Council today approved its Corporate Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2016-2020. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

As part of the financial strategy, the council agreed a net budget for 2016-17 of £255 million and a capital programme of £44 million. To set a balanced budget while managing inescapable pressures and protecting essential services, the authority will have to make £7.5 million of budget reductions in 2016-17 as well as increase council tax by 3.9 per cent – the equivalent of an extra 94p a week for a Band D property. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The financial strategy identifies that the council expects to have to find £35.5 million recurrent revenue budget reductions over the next four years. It provides an additional £9.5 million funding for investment in a number of significant initiatives such as new sea defences in Porthcawl, developing Maesteg Town Hall into a cultural hub and library, creating two new Extra Care facilities for the county borough, establishing a new household recycling centre at Pyle and improving traffic and transport safety outside local schools. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It also incorporates plans for strengthening the A4061 bridge in the Ogmore Valley, refurbishing buildings at Heronsbridge so they can provide 52 week residential services for children with disabilities, modernising the Homecare service with new technology and developing a new state of the art system that can be used to heat local homes and businesses. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The current budget for highways repairs will be maintained, as will Disabled Facilities Grants and Housing Renewal Schemes, and the budget for match-funding initiatives proposed by town and community councils will increase in order to support the transfer of community assets. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

There will also be two fixed additional allocations to meet the ongoing costs of replacing telecare equipment, street lighting columns and bridge infrastructure. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Before setting its Medium Term Financial Strategy, the council undertook a major public consultation exercise called ‘Shaping Bridgend’s Future’ using an online survey, social media debates and community engagement events. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Eleven of the 12 budget reduction proposals that it consulted on received majority support while reductions for highways drew the least enthusiastic response. Feedback gained through the consultation resulted in a number of changes to the final plans, including scaling back proposed cuts to highways maintenance, subsidised bus routes and voluntary sector bodies. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Council Leader Mel Nott OBE said: “I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the Shaping Bridgend’s Future consultation. We listened to what you said, and have incorporated your feedback into our financial plans. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Our corporate plan and financial strategy are designed to protect essential front-line services as far as possible, and will help the council deliver its required budget reductions and efficiency targets while developing further improvements in the sort of areas that our residents consider to be most important. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“With the help of local people, we have already achieved multi-million pound savings while changing the way in which the council works and provides services. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“By looking at things like internal efficiencies, contract negotiations and collaborative projects, we have delivered on our stated aim of protecting frontline services and finding more than half of all budget reductions from within the council itself. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I’m also pleased that we are able to invest in such a range of highly significant projects such as two new Extra Care facilities to serve the people of the county borough or the new sea defences required at Porthcawl. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“But we should not forget that between now and 2019, we are expecting to make £35 million reductions on our existing budgets, and this will get more difficult each year.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Councillor Mike Gregory, Cabinet Member for Resources, added: “This is an extremely realistic budget that reflects our aim of protecting essential frontline services as much as possible. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“A major part of setting this budget has been the involvement of local people through our Shaping Bridgend’s Future consultation, and I am really pleased that we have been able to reflect the views of residents in our budget and corporate plan. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“As part of this, we have developed three new corporate priorities that are designed to ensure the authority can continue to improve outcomes for citizens, deliver services and save money against a backdrop of diminishing local government resources. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The level of cuts that we are facing in future years and their impact on council services should not be underestimated, but I am confident that our financial strategy will help provide the resilience needed to meet the challenges ahead.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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