Ambitious plans revealed in budget proposals

Schemes to boost the county’s economy, improve education prospects for all and create new infrastructure for the future are among ambitious plans for Northumberland County Council’s  forthcoming budget.

The biggest ever capital programme of investment of £589m is proposed over the next three years, aiming to provide a bright future for everyone in Northumberland.

Flagship projects include new leisure centres in Berwick and Morpeth, a new Enterprise Zone in East Sleekburn, extra car parks, progress on the Newcastle to Northumberland rail line and new schools in the Hexham area.

Council Leader Peter Jackson said: “We’ve worked tirelessly over the past year to balance our books, and we’re confident we’ll be delivering a deliverable but ambitious budget.

“We’ve always had bold plans, and this budget will help support a thriving local economy and deliver value for money for all the communities we serve.

“As a snapshot, over the next three years we’re looking to spend £142m on our schools, £60m on regeneration projects, £44m on improving our leisure offer and £43m on housing.

“We’re also supporting an ambitious five-year Housing Investment programme which will see £22.5 million of new investment in council housing which we know is desperately needed.

“We’re already making huge strides in terms of improving education standards, attracting new investment and delivering on an ambitious North of Tyne devolution deal and this progress will continue.”

Councillors will also be asked to agree £25m of £36m savings over the next three years of the Medium Term Financial Plan, with efficiencies of £12.8 million identified for the coming year. To protect vital services which are subject to increasing demand, the council is proposing a Council Tax rise of 2.99% (excluding the Adult Social Care precept)

Coun Jackson added: ”We’re making good progress against the very difficult financial position we inherited while still delivering the most ambitious capital programme the county has ever seen. We feel these budget proposals strike a fine balance of spend and save.

“We’re committed to our promises of investing in Northumberland’s future and delivering the very best services for everyone who calls the county their home.”

The budget will be considered by full council on February 20th.
 
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