Creating a strong financial footing

9:37am - 23 February 2021

Millions of pounds are to be invested in projects which will have a positive impact for local people in North Somerset Council's budget for the year ahead.

Cllr Ash Cartman, North Somerset Council's executive member for finance said the budget clearly sets out how North Somerset Council will retain, protect and improve services for local people. 

"The past year has brought new challenges for everyone but this budget is a commitment to building an open, fairer and greener organisation on a sound financial footing.

Our capital investment programme now exceeds a third of a billion pounds. We are investing in projects to support community infrastructure, business, tourism and cultural recovery, the climate emergency, active travel, and improving outcomes for vulnerable adults and children.

The pandemic  has changed things locally, bringing new social, health, environmental and economic challenges to address.

Our budget protects the services that will help our communities to recover and thrive, while also investing in tangible projects that will bring quality to people's lives and make North Somerset a better place to live –  now and in the future. We are committed to caring for vulnerable people and providing for everyone.

We previously announced a £750,000 investment programme in our Great Lakes, now we can add to that an additional £300,000 of investment into our public rights of way to enable more of us to enjoy the Great Outdoors North Somerset has to offer."

Due to the legacy of its low council tax base, North Somerset Council remains a low-taxing council overall. Similar to many other councils, North Somerset will be increasing council tax by 1.99 per cent for the year ahead and an additional 3 per cent has been added specifically for adult social care.

Cllr Cartman added: "If we had fairer funding from Government as well as adequate, sustainable, and long term social care funding we wouldn’t be forced to increase local tax to this extent. We have identified savings of £7.5m in this budget and will continue to look for more where possible whilst protecting front line services. We will continue to lobby government for fairer funding.”

The budget sets out proposals to develop projects which will help make North Somerset a more attractive place to live and visit.

These include:

•    investing in the ‘Great Lakes’ – the marine lakes in Clevedon and Weston-super-Mare, and Portishead Lake Grounds

•    continuing support to leisure centres to re-open and for residents to return to the gym

•    supporting the continued regeneration of Weston’s seafront 

•    continuing to work with Parkwood Leisure to reopen the Playhouse Theatre

•    investing in local transport infrastructure, including delivering the MetroWest scheme with the West of England partners and re-opening the railway line from Portishead and Pill into Bristol

•    investing in schools, such as the Winterstoke Hundred Academy and Baytree expansion at Clevedon

•    further investment in Weston town centre, including a new transport hub at Alexandra Parade, public open space enhancements, and a new business plan for the Sovereign Centre, to stimulate the town’s economic recovery.

"After years of cuts in budgets by previous administrations, this budget moves us forward towards a brighter future, delivering for local people," said Cllr Cartman.

The draft budget will be discussed at the Full Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday 23 February).

The debate can be watched live via the council's YouTube channel.