East Sussex County Council’s cabinet has approved a budget it says will protect frontline services as the authority faces £110 million budget cuts in the 10 years to 2020.
The budget, which will go before the full council for approval on Tuesday, February 11, proposes raising Council Tax by 1.95 per cent – the first increase in East Sussex in four years.
It also includes more than £57 million of new investment in roads, including £10 million for improving unclassified routes and £2.25 million for fixing potholes – allowing them to be repaired more quickly.
As the Government’s Council Tax freeze grant has only been confirmed for the next two financial years, the council says the 1.95 per cent increase would give the authority greater long-term control over its budget.
Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of the council, said: “This is a budget for the future. It will allow us to better protect frontline services and to take control of our own destiny, in the interests of the people we represent.
“We’ve been through the most difficult financial period any of us can remember and more tough times lie ahead, so we have to cut our cloth accordingly.
“Until now, we’ve managed to protect essential services while freezing Council Tax, but it’s vital we have long-term control over our finances so we can plan ahead and avoid unnecessary cuts in the years to come.”
The additional £2.25 million funding for potholes will allow the council to repair most within 28 days, which would significantly improve the speed of repairs for potholes on unclassified roads.
Cllr Glazier said: “Despite the budget cuts we’re facing, good housekeeping and careful planning means we’ve been able to set aside a substantial amount of one-off funding for roads.
“We know from speaking to people that potholes are a major concern and the additional funding will allow us to fix them much more quickly, and to improve 42 miles of unclassified roads.”
The 1.95 per cent increase, if approved by the full council, would add an extra 43p a week to Council Tax bills for band D properties.
The level of increase is dependent on the threshold the Government is due to set early next month for Council Tax increases above which a referendum would be triggered.
Photo: Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council.