Buckinghamshire Council is investing an extra £5 million in the county’s road network, on top of £100 million it’s already committed to spending on the roads over a four year period.
The announcement was made at a meeting of full Council, where the full budget for 2023/24 was set. Council Leader Martin Tett made the extra funds for roads available from reserves acknowledging the heavy toll of wet and freezing conditions this winter plus increased HGV traffic from HS2 and East West Rail.
It means that in total, £105 million is now allocated directly to maintaining and improving the county’s road network. Overall, £130 million in funding is being dedicated to roads and other highways infrastructure in Buckinghamshire including pavements, drains, street lighting and bridges during the council term.
It’s part of an overall package of investment in local services agreed by councillors, who went through and agreed the detail of the 2023/24 budget. The agreed budget outlines which services and projects are being prioritised and how these are being paid for. The spending plans were shaped by residents who outlined how they wanted council tax to be spent during a consultation last year.
The agreed budget also includes the following investment:
- Nearly £143 million for improvements to schools.
- £20 million on housing and tackling homelessness.
More than £14 million to tackle Climate Change and prevent flooding.
- More than £20 million towards our waste and recycling facilities.
Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, said: ‘The weather this winter – wet conditions followed by spells of freezing weather – has decimated roads across the whole country. This includes Buckinghamshire where we are responsible for more than 2,000 miles of carriageway. We then have the added toll of the HGV traffic from HS2 and East West Rail here. It means we’ve seen significant deterioration of our roads this winter, reflected in the number of emergency repairs we’ve done this January – 209 compared to just 27 in the same period last year. Our teams have been working round the clock – those are just the Category 1 emergency works and we’ve also repaired a further 3,142 urgent repairs this January compared to 1,260 last year.
I know that residents want us to prioritise spending their money on the roads, alongside the other critical services we all rely on, which is why we’ve dedicated the extra £5 million. We are also in constant negotiation with both HS2 and East West Rail so that they can cover the costs of damage on the routes their vehicles use and I’m pleased that recently East West Rail have agreed to repair 12 out of 12 roads we raised with them in the north of the county.‘
Referring to the overall budget, Martin added: ‘I can honestly say this has been the hardest budget on record to set, given the context of major global and economic turbulence. The high rate of inflation alongside extra demand on our services means we’re having to find another £63 million to cover our costs, in spite of the savings we’ve made by becoming a single unitary council. We’re also identifying a further £10 million in savings across the organisation to also help meet our high costs – which include an allocation of £340 million for social care alone.
We cannot pass on the full inflationary cost rise of more than 10% to residents, but we do need to increase council tax to pay for adult social care, balance the books and commit to the investments in our services that residents have asked us for.
I’m very pleased we’ve been able to present a balanced budget and that the plans were confirmed last night. Above all, we continue to be a value for money council and where we are seeing other councils fall into bankruptcy and a neighbouring council having to put council tax up by 10%, we are not in that situation here in Buckinghamshire. It’s my utmost priority to continue to run a financially prudent council on behalf of our residents.‘
*Source of information : Press release from Buckinghamshire Council.