Resolution to go on saving money - opinion by James Jamieson, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council

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New Year is a time of resolutions. One resolution I am pleased to maintain is Central Bedfordshire’s pledge to help hard-working families by not raising our portion of council tax for a fifth year running, while still maintaining front-line services.

We have published our draft budget, which will see a need for a further £13.7million of efficiency savings next year.

Developing these plans has not been easy, but by thinking innovatively about how we provide services, listening to residents’ priorities and focusing on value for money we have achieved a revenue budget of £186m which achieves these aims.

In adult care we’re supporting older people in their homes, helping them stay able for longer instead of using more residential care.

In children’s services we’re seeking to care for children locally as an alternative to out-of-county provision.

We’re using some of our £114million capital budget to continue our extensive programme of upgrading our leisure centres and to make them self funding.

And there is also a multi-million pound pledge to maintain and upgrade our roads, including a further £309,000 investment in the “longabout” on the A1 south of Biggleswade.

We are planning to invest £2million towards the wider development of Stratton Business Park, where the long-term development could create 3,500 jobs.

Details of our spending proposals, including reductions in the number of temporary staff and administrative functions, are at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/budget2015 which also includes an online survey.

The consultation documents are also available at main offices, and it closes at 5pm on Tuesday, February 3.

Please do have your say, because your views really do matter.