03:42PM, Friday 22 February 2019
Money for school places, tackling homelessness and protecting the borough from the fallout of a no-deal Brexit was included in the 2019/20 Slough Borough Council (SBC) budget which was passed last night (Thursday).
The budget, which has been balanced for the next three years, will include a 2.8 per cent council tax increase — 4.7 per cent including fire, police and adult social care precepts.
A £12m expansion has been planned for Wexham School as well as £9.5m for the new Grove Academy School in Chalvey, £1.4m on expanding Langley Grammar School and £21m for Special Educational Needs places over the next five years.
A total of £1.4m of new and additional money will be invested in supporting looked after children this year including care leavers, who will now have their council tax covered by SBC up to the age of 25, even if they move out of town.
Overall, out of the excess of £105m being spent by SBC this year, £29.26m will be spent on children, learning and skills.
SBC will invest £700,000 in adult social care, meaning the council will now be spending 39p on it of every pound spent
SBC leader Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) said the number of large scale regeneration projects in the town in combination with Crossrail and Heathrow Airport’s expansion means that ‘Slough stands on the cusp of a really interesting time.
“We emerge from this period of austerity with confidence,” he added.
This year alone, the council is to spend £55.6m on regeneration.
A £25m investment project is planned for the old town centre library site, which, in partnership with developers Slough Urban Renewal, will be converted into two hotels, restaurants, apartments and shared ownership properties.
About 200 homes including social and affordable units are expected in the redevelopment of Stoke Wharf by the Grand Union Canal, while 175 new homes, are planned for the former Montem Leisure Centre site.
About 1,400 homes, new offices and bars and restaurants are planned for the former Thames Valley University site, which is designed to make the town centre better linked.
About 120 social and affordable homes are planned for the year ahead and plans for a further 250 to be drawn up after that.
The council leader announced a £200,000 contingency fund for a no-deal Brexit, which was followed by a further £200,000 from central government.
An extra £520,000 for rough sleeping support services was announced at the meeting at The Curve in William.
Conservative Group amendments to the budget, all of which were voted down by councillors, included ten extra traffic enforcement cameras and additional bus lane cameras and improved contract management for on-street parking enforcement.
The group also proposed £150,000 to cover public transport for carers and an assessment to see if public transport access points are disability friendly enough, additional road safety initiatives and free on-street and off-street parking in dedicated bays for all electric vehicles.
Cllr Swindlehurst said that he was prepared to work with the opposition on achieving these goals but said the Conservative Group’s plans had not been ‘reliably costed’.
He added: “The one thing we know about this budget is that the numbers in it are reliable.
“Unfortunately the opposition in this town just aren’t ready to form an administration or attempt to run it.”
But cabinet member for environment and leisure Cllr Rob Anderson (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) gave the opposition credit for drawing up an alternative budget.
He said: “This is my 22nd budget. Only four times in those 22 years has the opposition attempted to present an alternative budget, and that was me, when I was in opposition.”
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