At a time when local authorities across the country are gearing to expect less in terms of this year’s central government grant, the Tories have managed to get a number of their key funding proposals included in the first draft of the Mayoral budget to be published on Monday (23rd November).
Later this week, the Chancellor will spell out the level of savings to be borne by councils as part of his plans to get the nation’s finances back into order. In this regard, the Department for Local Government & Communities has already agreed a 30% cut in its spending over the next four years.
Now, Conservative councillors have learnt that the Mayor has incorporated three of their main budget demands in the provisional Revenue and Capital papers which will be subject to wide consultation until 6th January. These proposals will then go to Cabinet prior to final endorsement or rejection by Full Council in February.
The measures incorporated at this stage are: £500k contribution towards the Bristol Aerospace Centre; £50k funding for work on a rail station at Ashton Gate; and £50k to further develop the not-for-profit Campus Skatepark community sports facility on the site of the former Bishopsworth Swimming Pool.
Other items still subject to further bartering and bargaining include funding for home adaptations for the elderly and disabled; community and sports grants package around the city, and increased investment in parks and play areas.
Cllr Weston (Henbury & Brentry) said: “I am very pleased that our overtures with the Mayor have borne some fruit. However, my Group will continue to push for additional concession that we regard as essential for our communities. Some of these will be via the consultation process and others at February's budget meeting itself.
“Of course, one appreciates that the exact terms of the financial settlement has yet to be disclosed so there will need to be further discussions in the days ahead as that picture becomes clearer.
“Nevertheless, if George wants Conservative support for his budget, and next year’s budget-fixing meeting is likely to be highly contentious, then we would hope that he will take seriously the remainder of our requests.
“My team will be looking for opportunities to develop our budget priorities further to see if additional items can be adopted in the final submission to Cabinet in January.”