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First Unitary Budget Set to Include Extra £1 million for Road Repairs as Lib Dems Ensure Residents' Priorities Come First

January 22, 2009 4:08 PM
Pothole in road

The Lib Dems' budget proposals, approved by the Bedford Borough Implementation Executive, include an extra £1 million for much-needed road and footpath repairs

The first budget of the unitary Bedford Borough Council is set to include a raft of proposals to meet residents' priorities including an additional £1 million for road and footpath repairs and a freeze on short-stay car park charges, thanks to the Liberal Democrats. The Borough's council tax increase will be remain at the proposed low level of 0.9%, with the Lib Dems' package of vital initiatives and funding boosts for essential services to be paid for by cutting back spending on council PR and ceremonial events and releasing unused council reserves.

The Lib Dems' plans will go forward as part of the budget presented to the Full Council at its meeting on 4th February, after their proposals were approved at last night's Implementation Executive meeting. The only opposition to the plans came from the Conservatives, who voted against the package which in addition to boosts for road maintenance and town centre parking also includes more funding for action on protecting green spaces from unauthorised encampments, activities for children and young people in the borough and tackling climate change.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Group Leader Dave Hodgson said: "Our proposals mean that the first budget for the unitary Bedford Borough Council is set to reflect the need for action to repair the Borough's roads, boost the local economy, increase opportunities for young people and protect the local and wider environment. '

"After years of chronic underfunding, an additional £1 million investment for roads and footpaths will enable the vital task of tackling the severe backlog of repairs needed to begin. Roads and footpath maintenance is just one area where residents have been sorely let down, and we are delighted that thanks to our proposals the budget will address real concerns of local people.'

"Following years of inadequate services and spiralling council tax bills from the Tory County Council, it handed over a financial mess to the Borough. It took a monumental effort from council officers to prepare a budget for last night's meeting, and it was crucial that we were successful in adding a number of items to boost services and support local communities, while keeping council tax down.'

"The Tories who last night voted against vital measures such as extra road repairs, protection of land from unauthorised encampments and a car parking freeze for shoppers were simply adding further insult to the injury caused by their long record of misrule at County Hall. It is that record that the Borough unitary authority must turn around, and our budget proposals should form part of the first step in that direction."

The Lib Dem proposals which will now go forward as part of the budget for approval by the Full Council include:

• capital investment of £1million for roads and paths,

• £40,000 to tackle the problems of verge parking

• £35,000 to protect open spaces from unauthorised traveller encampments.

• A freeze in off-street parking charges for stays of up to two hours

• A total of over £100,000 added into the budget for children and young people to enhance youth services, boost holiday 'playschemes and 'streetschemes' and provide facilities for young people.

• £20,000 for action on climate change and cutting council energy bills,

• £12,000 for the repair, replacement or provision of new bus shelters