by mikebell on 15 February, 2019
Conservative-run North Somerset Council will approve the budget and council tax for the new financial year at a meeting next week. Here are some headline:
➡️ A 2.75% Council Tax increase – collecting around an extra £2.75 million in council tax from local payers. When the increase from town and parish councils, fire and police are added in, average ‘Band D’ Council Tax will rise by 3.86%.
➡️ A total of around £10 million worth of new cuts and / or increased income/charges.
➡️ Nothing new to support the homeless or rough sleepers. Despite the obvious success of the night assessment shelter, North Somerset has not agreed to support further funding and investment into homelessness prevention and a ‘Housing First’ approach. Lib Dems proposed an extra £100,000 for this.
➡️ Nothing new to support cycling and pedestrian improvements in key areas, including Weston town centre which desperately needs investment and support. Lib Dems proposed a £200,000 fund to get this work started.
➡️ Nothing new to invest in public transport, a vital lifeline for communities across North Somerset to access healthcare, jobs and education. Lib Dems proposed a £100,000 boost to supported public transport routes. There is also nothing to explore options for a park and ride facility in Weston and for Bristol Airport. Lib Dems proposed to fund feasibility studies at both sites.
Some things are in the budget and which we have called for and so I welcome:
✅ Extra money for parking review – Tories have pledged £250k with no plan that anybody has yet seen. Lib Dems proposed £500k with a clear plan for improvements. We need to see public consultation, cross-party engagement and real action.
✅ Extra money for cleaner streets including litter bins and dog bins, plus the pledge of a review – this is something I’ve repeatedly asked for and is a positive step but it is too little. Lib Dems proposed £200,000 investment in this area including a ‘green action fund’ to support volunteer groups helping to clean up our community.
✅ Extra investment in support for children with special education needs and disabilities to help improve services following the critical Joint Local Area Review of SEND Services is welcome. However, nothing is to being done about the cuts to the higher needs support provided to schools next year which will have significant impacts on the ability of schools to help local children and young people.
So a mixed bag all in all, with some wins and some serious failings. It could be so much better with different choices and an administration that was willing to engage with opponents and residents, listen and act. Roll on May 2nd when we have local elections and can have our say on all of this!