Funding set aside for Scunthorpe town centre projects
The newly-approved North Lincolnshire Council budget for 2013/4 includes additional funds due to be pumped into projects in Scunthorpe town centre, while wi-fi internet hotspots will be installed in town centres.
Council leader Liz Redfern emphasised the importance of attracting businesses to the region as she presented the budget at a meeting in Scunthorpe Civic Centre.
She said: “I am pleased to say we are firmly on a business-focused footing.
“We are working with and encouraging more businesses to relocate here in North Lincolnshire and helping companies expand.”
Efforts to protect frontline services also featured prominently in Mrs Redfern’s budget speech.
She said: “We are determined to give residents value for money and services which are among the very best. I am particularly pleased that we are able to enhance support for our frontline services.”
Plans are in place to extend the Imagination Library free books project for the under-fives to improve literacy.
Projects to deal with potholes and improve the region’s roads will also receive extra funding in the budget. And the Go To Town free parking scheme, run in conjunction with the Scunthorpe Telegraph, could be extended to May.
Mrs Redfern also outlined plans for a new scheme to help the elderly.
She said: “We are introducing a home assistance scheme for the over-75s.
“It is a brand new service to be rolled out across North Lincolnshire, where we can visit and establish what support those over-75s needs are, so they can live independently for as long as they wish.”
As expected, council tax charges will remain at their current levels for residents in Scunthorpe and Ashby.
People living in other areas may see some variations after charges for town and parish council services are added to the overall bill.
The council also pledged £1 million to help people meet the cost of buying their first home through joining the Local Lend a Hand scheme.
The initiative, run by Lloyds TSB bank, sees local authorities ensure against default on a 20 per cent share of a mortgage for the first five years.
This applies to buyers who can afford a five per cent deposit.
Other authorities that have signed up for the scheme include City of Lincoln Council and Leicestershire County Council.
Councillor Paul Vickers welcomed the move, saying: “I have spoken to many first-time home buyers in my ward who, through no fault of their own, can’t raise the money for a deposit.”
The budget meeting played out against a backdrop of protests outside the council chamber, relating to changes to the area’s youth service. But it was announced that an extra £100,000 would be pumped into the service.
Opposition Labour group leader Mark Kirk presented an alternative budget, outlining the measures his group would have taken if it was in power.
Describing his group’s symbolic budget, he told the Scunthorpe Telegraph: “It is tough, but we are trying to be fair. We are trying to find efficiencies wherever they are, without impacting on frontline services.
“Hopefully, we can take staff along with us, but clearly we are in a position where because of the Government’s stance with local government, it gets harder year after year.”
New spending proposals suggested by Labour included committing £48,000 towards providing two hours’ free parking in Scunthorpe and Ashby.
Other plans included a review of tree preservation orders, with £50,000 suggested to be spent in the 2014-15 year on removal and replacement work.
Labour also suggested ploughing additional funding into regeneration projects in the Westcliff area of Scunthorpe and the Quebec Road play area in Bottesford.
And £130,000 was identified for a pelican crossing on Queensway in Scunthorpe.
Councillor Andrea Davison said: “This is something I have been arguing for since my election in 1997 and was extremely disappointed when the Tories opposed it recently.
“With the opening of the new school and the extensive housing development in that area, a safe place to cross on what is a very busy and dangerous road should be a very real priority.”
The Labour group suggested bringing forward various savings which were identified to be made in later years.
The group also indicated it would not proceed with plans to create a training centre at Sir John Nelthorpe School in Brigg or a new entrance lobby at Ancholme Leisure Centre.
These schemes, which have been identified in the council’s capital programme, would cost a total of £785,000.
WHERE CASH WILL BE SPENT
AMONG the announcements in the budget were:
£250,000 to roll out the Imagination Library scheme offering free books to under-fives.
£400,000 over the next four years to provide home checks for people over 75.
£1m extra from the revenue budget and £3m from the capital budget to repair potholes and roads over the next two years.
£15,000 to provide a loyalty bonus for school crossing patrol workers.
£3.5 million over the next three years to detrunk the M181 in order to enable access to the proposed Lincolnshire Lakes development.
£2 million over the next three years for housing in Scunthorpe town centre.
£700,000 to access industrial land off the A18 Mortal Ash Hill, with a view to creating a science and technology park.
£790,000 for projects in Scunthorpe town centre.
£25,000 to create more 20mph zones at schools.
£500,000 for Brigg Recreation Ground.
£350,000 for a community library in Bottesford.
£250,000 per year to create skate parks and multi-use games areas.
£15,000 to create wi-fi hotspots in towns.
£2.1m for improvements to Quibell Park.
£1 million to provide the Local Lend a Hand scheme for first-time home-buyers.
£200,000 per year for community grants.
£100,000 extra for youth service provision. needs to be confirmed
Among the savings identified by the council are:
£50,000 per year by ending membership of local government organisations, such as the Local Government Association and Local Government Yorkshire and the Humber.
£495,000 over the next two years through the sale of buildings and land through the council’s commercial policy.
£100,000 per year through reviewing senior management posts.
£111,000 over the next two years through carbon efficiencies.
£382,000 over the next four years through human resources service restructures.
£750,000 through procurement savings in 2013-14.