Highways improvement schemes, a new primary school and support for fledgling businesses to develop and grow across the county, are just some of the projects set to benefit from an extra £117m capital investment programme in County Durham.
But councillors also voted to increase council tax bills by nearly 5% – including 2.99% normal tax and an additional 2% increase to the Adult Social Care Precept.
The funds, which are ring-fenced for capital projects, were agreed by councillors this week as part of Durham County Council’s 2018/19 budget and bring the total capital investment linked to the organisation’s Medium Term Financial Plan up to £360m.
Over the next four years projects set to benefit from the capital programme include a further investment of £19.1m in highways maintenance up to 2019/20 in addition to sums agreed in 2018/19.
Funding of £750,000 is also being provided for a new railway station at Horden which it is hoped will open in 2020, bringing its total investment to £3m. This will be match funded from the New Stations Fund and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
In addition the capital programme includes money for a proposed new primary school in the Bishop Auckland area, where new housing is placing pressure on school places.
The council is also continuing its support for fledgling businesses across the county, with almost £1m allocated to the Finance Durham Fund – bringing the total investment to £10m.
Leader of Durham County Council, Cllr Simon Henig, said: “We are continuing to invest in the future of County Durham by maintaining our focus on economic development, transport and schools.
“Our recent public consultation confirmed we continue to support the public’s priorities and we remain committed to providing high quality facilities to support communities across the county.”
There will also be extra revenue funding for a number of areas of social care in 2018/19, including £3.9m to support looked-after children, £1m to support special guardianship arrangements, a £375,000 investment in the authority’s social work academy as well providing £4.8m for adult social care to meet on-going pressures.
Due to reductions in revenue funding over the next four years, the authority also needs to make further forecasted savings of £43.5m. This includes savings of £15m for 2018/19 and is in addition to the £209m of savings it has achieved since 2011/12.
At this week’s meeting, members also agreed a 2.99% increase in council tax for 2018/19 in line with the Government’s own projections for council tax increases – with an additional 2% increase to the Adult Social Care Precept. This equates to a £1.38 per week rise for Band D properties and 92p per week for the majority of council tax payers, who live in Band A properties.