Notts County Council agrees council tax rise and extra £4m road repairs in budget

Nottinghamshire County Council set their budget as financial pressures increase
By Jamie Waller, Local Democracy Reporter

Government funding levels have been criticised by parties across Nottinghamshire County Council as the authority set its budget for the next 12 months.

The Conservative administration said it was under increasing financial pressure from adult and children’s care and special needs support transport costs, which the government should address.

The upper-tier council was one of a handful nationwide to raise council tax below the maximum rate of 4.99 per cent, with a 4.84 per cent rise approved.

This would leave a Band A home – the most common in the county – paying an extra £55 for a total of £1,204.72.

The budget includes an added £4m for road repairs, thanks to a last-minute uplift which the government awarded to county councils.

Nine new maintenance schemes are planned in areas including Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Retford and Newark, with plans to be confirmed next month.

An amendment from the Independent Alliance to sell land at Toton was rejected by both Conservative and Labour groups.

It would have disposed of land originally earmarked for a now-cancelled HS2 interchange and invested an extra £20m in road repairs.

But during the marathon six-hour meeting, all parties were on the same page when it came to government funding.

Councillor Richard Jackson (Con), the cabinet member holder for finance and resources, said: “Too often councils have been handed responsibility without costs.

“We have received an additional £7.3m from the government, but it doesn’t make all of our challenges go away. It buys our council time to implement sustainable solutions.

“The county council has always ensured looked-after children are safe, but the current situation leaves us spending more than we can afford. Government needs to act now on a legally-binding cap on care costs.

“The national living wage rise will cost us £19.3m in the next financial year. If the Treasury claims credit, they should help bear the cost.”

Labour group leader Councillor Kate Foale said: “We have crumbling roads, austerity and underinvestment – not a cause for celebration. No council is getting funding it needs.

“Last year we told you something needed to be done, but you waited until the last minute to make your concerns public. £7.3m is a pittance given the challenges we face.”

Councillor Jason Zadrozny (Ind) urged councillors to sell the Toton land, which was no longer required for the HS2 line, and put £20m from the sale into road repairs.

“Dealing with the diabolical state of the roads is the top priority for residents,” he said.

“This amendment will allow us to invest £10m for next two years. Taxpayers want their money [from Toton] back. This is land that the council has no plan for.”

However, council leader Councillor Ben Bradley responded that the land had always been a key investment site and accused them of “selling the family silver”.

Labour, which has the same number of members as the Independents, did not submit their own budget amendment.

News broke during the meeting that commissioners had been appointed to run neighbouring Nottingham City Council.

Conservatives said it showed the difference between “a well-run and a badly-run authority”, noting the city’s budget gap over the next three years was five times higher than its £37m gap.

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which sets council funding, has been contacted for comment.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)