Savings of £13.8m in borough’s proposed budget but council tax frozen for many households

Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson.
Mayor of Bedford Dave Hodgson.

The proposed budget for Bedford borough includes £13.8m of savings, freezing average council tax bills and providing support for the most vulnerable.

Bedford Borough Council’s draft budget for 2014/15 will be considered by the council’s Executive on Wednesday, January 22 and includes £13.8m of “required savings in the face of unprecedented Government cuts and rising demand”.

The budget freezes average Council Tax for households across the borough as well as directing savings away from front line services and supporting the most vulnerable people in the borough.

The council says the budget also looks to the future and ensures Bedford can continue to thrive and buck the national economic trend by delivering major investment in Bedford town centre, including the bus station regeneration scheme and the Mayor’s Free Parking Deal.

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “This draft budget reflects our ongoing efforts to save services and support vulnerable people, while keeping council tax down for hard-pressed local households.

“We have targeted savings in Borough Hall, not out in the community, allowing us to propose another council tax freeze while also investing in the future and breathing new life into the heart of Bedford. This includes the bus station regeneration project and more support for a revitalised town centre.”

Cllr Michael Headley, Portfolio Holder for Finance, added: “We are continuing to protect frontline services in the face of extraordinary funding pressures. There have been no closures of libraries, leisure centres, children’s centres and we have maintained weekly bin collections, school crossing patrols and a strong rural bus network.

“We are also ensuring we can continue to invest and improve the borough, including major investment in new school buildings as well as key infrastructure such as the missing link of the Bedford Western Bypass.”

The largest saving is within workforce (£2.8m) which includes a reduced senior management structure. There is also a £2m saving achieved by pushing down inflationary costs on many budget areas.

The borough council’s highlights of the draft 2014/15 budget:

Freezing council tax – 4th year running

Protecting services:

Leisure centres and swimming pools saved

All Children’s Centres protected

No Library closures

Rural buses and evening urban and Sunday networks

Weekly bin collections maintained

Investing for the Future

Bunyan Centre saved and revamped

£5million to repair and maintain our roads and pavements

Substantial investment in our new and improved school buildings

Funding for missing link of the Bedford Western Bypass

Breathing Life into the Heart of Bedford

Mayor’s Free Parking Deal offering 2 hours free parking every Saturday in Council-owned town centre car parks

New Bus Station

Town Centre Car Park charges frozen for the 4th year running

Protecting the most vulnerable

New Fostering fees and allowances, for those looking after children on behalf of us all

Increased funding for support for Looked after Children

More help for older people to support their quality of life outside of hospital, through the Better Care Fund

Paying the living wage to our staff