After over two hours of heated political debate, members gave their backing to the administration’s financial plans for 2015-16, by 39 votes to 31 with one abstention.
When the council tax is set in February, next year, it will mean that the average Band D property will have remained at a standstill for three years- with the potential of a fourth. The budget was delivered four months earlier than usual on the basis of the success of a three year financial plan agreed last March.
‘A budget for the health and wellbeing of all the people in Cheshire’ was how the Administration heralded plans to deliver £203m of capital investment in leisure and entertainment facilities across the borough in the next two years.
And despite a national climate of financial stringency, there will be an extra £2.3m in support for children in care; £ 2.4m for young adults with learning disabilities and £0.5m in welfare assistance through the continuing HELP scheme.
Conservative Councillor Eveleigh Moore Dutton, Executive Member for Resources and Deputy Leader of the Council said: “These are not just money investments they are investment s in giving all our residents opportunities to earn and live lives of a higher quality.
“It gives certainty to our own staff who need to plan ahead, to our partners – especially those in the third sector who work with us – and comfort to our residents who pay their council tax and depend on our services.”
Council Leader Mike Jones said this was the Council’s seventh budget and the Opposition had yet to provide an alternative, although they had produced ‘a few amendments’.
He stressed that work had started on the budget a soon as the last one had been agreed in March – it was not an ‘overnight job’.
“This budget is about investing in facilities, schools, theatre, sports centres, historic buildings and regeneration.” Said Councillor Jones. “It’s about creating a great place to live, delivering a growth agenda with additional income to protect valuable services and creating employment.”