Council tax rise in new budget proposals

Council tax rise in new budget proposals

By Gareth Dennison | 19/02/2021

Council tax rise in new budget proposals

 

A BUDGET of £236 million revenue spending and £163 million capital investment was approved by RMBC cabinet members on Monday.
Here is some of what is included in the proposals, which include a near three per cent council tax hike and go before the full council meeting on March 3.


ROTHERHAM Council expects to come in £500,000 under budget this year — after initially fearing a £50 million financial black hole when the pandemic began.
Covid-19 support from the Government of about £25 million has helped balance the revenue budget for 2020/21, which has allowed reserves to be increased by £4.3 million to £25 million.
Finance director Judith Badger said: “I think we are in a very strong position to end this year. That’s credit to how hard everybody has worked, and using the funding we’ve had to support Covid appropriately, while taking a great deal of care with our other spending.
RMBC leader Cllr Chris Read said it had been “an extraordinary year in every conceivable way” but RMBC had shown discipline with its finances — and would re-profile in the coming year the savings it had been unable to make in 2020/21.
Among the latest virus-related grants was £741,000 for lateral flow testing, which the council is focusing on care homes.
Cllr Roche, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “It’s vital that we get on top of tracking down on the virus.
“There had been a few major outbreaks in care homes. This is a welcome grant and another piece of our support to try to reduce Covid in our communities.”


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DESIGN and preparation work for six flood schemes will be funded with £5.8 million from the capital budget.
But RMBC is still reliant on about £40 million coming through from the Government to carry out the actual construction.
Cllr Emma Hoddinott, cabinet member for community safety, said the investment would kickstart the projects to protect Kilnhurst, Whiston, Laughton Common, Parkgate, Catcliffe and Rotherham town centre.
“People have been living with the threat of further flooding in these areas, in fact in the last few weeks we have seen a near miss,” she added.
“The main thing is we are not sitting on our hands. We are putting the money up to get these schemes started.
“Rotherham needs to get a fair deal from the Government to pay for them to be completed.”

SOME £1.6 million will go on a new permanent home for the Reach Day Centre, currently on Badsley Moor Lane and used by adults with autism and learning disabilities.
Cllr David Roche, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “The site belongs to NHS Property Services. They are looking to sell, so we have no choice but to move.”
It was decided to construct a purpose-built centre after failing to find suitable premises and dismissing the option of moving the service outside the borough.
A report said: “The future of the wider site is uncertain, and several neighbouring properties have been sold or are vacant and falling into a state of disrepair.
“This, combined with a large sell-off of bordering land, in turn is causing anxiety amongst service users, their parents, and carers.”
The cost of Covid-19 on adult services —\!q after grants — has been £6.7 million, with £3.9 million of that going on placements and a further £1.1 million on PPE.
Hospital discharge costs have been covered by the Government during the pandemic but this cost will fall back to RMBC by Easter, Cllr Roche noted.

MOVING the library to a redeveloped markets complex will cost the council an extra £4 million than originally hoped.
RMBC bid for £18 million from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund but was told over Christmas that it could have a provisional £12,660,708.
Council leader Cllr Chris Read said: “It’s rather less than we asked for so we are putting forward some assurance from our own capital programme that we think will enable us to secure that £12 million from the Government and undertake that major regeneration in the town centre.”
The plan is to cut the amount of office space planned within the scheme and commit an extra £4.16 million to enable the project to go ahead.
A report said there was a “reasonable” prospect of additional match funding but this could not be guaranteed.
Meanwhile, there is a commitment of £4 million over three years for physical improvements in other town and village centres, including spending on pavements, shrub beds and replacement street furniture.

MORE than 500 concrete streetlighting columns will be replaced at a cost of £740,000 from the capital funds.
A small number were replaced after being flagged as unsafe by a 2019 independent inspection, which advised that a further 507 be swapped within two years.

A ROW of retail outlets on Wellgate will be razed to improve a gateway into the town centre.
The stretch of mostly-empty shops lies between the multi-storey car park and the council’s Henley’s garage development, where 54 properties are being built around Wellgate Old Hall.
The budget papers say: “This parade of units is considered a blight on the improving area and consideration has now been given to looking at alternative uses.”
“This is really crucial,” said Cllr Denise Lelliott. “As town centres are shrinking all over the country, not just Rotherham, we need a really good core centre but also fantastic gateways into the town centre.
“By demolishing the old commercial properties on Wellgate, it will improve the gateway. It could potentially unlock another development opportunity but will also ensure that it’s a better area for the people moving into the houses on the Henley’s garage site.”

NEARLY half a million pounds will go on for extra Streetpride teams for street cleaning and grounds maintenance.
Two will be based in the centre of the borough, with another in the north and one to the south, working on high footfall areas most in need of litter-picking, sweeping and weeding.
Cllr Sarah Allen, cabinet member for cleaner, greener communities, said there would be a focus on cycle routes.
The budget papers said: “The condition of existing highway cycle routes in Rotherham is varied with remedial maintenance needed in a number of locations, potentially discouraging cycling along a number of routes.
“Current maintenance budgets do not allow for a comprehensive maintenance regime for the existing cycle network.”
Thousands of trees will be planted and an engagement officer post created to bring in more funding.

EIGHTY-nine work placements for young people at risk of long-term unemployment will be created at a cost of more than £100,000.
The Kickstart scheme is aimed at getting people aged 16 to 24 off Universal Credit and includes CV development and interview skills.
Depending on demand, the maximum investment required would be £102,000.

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