Major budget cuts...and a pledge on potholes

Pothole on the road near Bolton, Northumberland
Pothole on the road near Bolton, Northumberland

Councillors in Northumberland formally approved a budget with cuts of £32.5million alongside a 1.98 per cent rise in council tax this afternoon.

But in what is sure to be welcome news to motorists in the county, council leader Grant Davey pledged to spend an extra £600,000 to clear the backlog of potholes, filling more than 12,000 by June this year.

A report setting out the savings plan for 2014/15 was endorsed by Northumberland County Council’s policy board last week and has now been approved at today’s full council meeting with 36 councillors voting in favour and 25 against.

The vote included a four-year spending plan, from 2014-18, which will feature £130million of savings.

The Labour administration claimed that the spending plans include more support for schools, affordable housing, regeneration and economic growth, while dealing with cuts imposed by the Government, and it also includes provision for the introduction of free parking.

But the decision not to accept the Council Tax Freeze Grant for 2014-15 – around £1.5million – and an increase in council tax of 1.98 per cent (the county council’s element) were among the key issues that the opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups opposed.

For more on the budget debate, see Thursday’s Northumberland Gazette.