No increase in council tax, a new campaign to clean up Renfrewshire, and major investment in roads and primary class size reduction are among the highlights of Renfrewshire Council’s budget for 2008-09.
Councillors have approved a Â£413million budget for spending on council services for the coming year, along with a three-year Â£156.5m capital investment programme.
“Renfrewshire is seeing the benefit of a developing partnership between councils and the Scottish Government,” said Councillor Derek Mackay, leader of Renfrewshire Council.
“We have secured the resources to make sure there is no increase in council tax while at the same time having more freedom to deliver our own key policies.”
“The council is delivering on its main priorities and is improving a wide range of services while not increasing the burden on council taxpayers.”
“Our budget will also see significant investment in modernising schools, improving the condition of roads and bridges, boosting support for the care of vulnerable children, and introducing our flagship policy on giving communities more involvement in decision making.”
One of the council’s key proposals will be a package of measures to improve the environment. An additional Â£2.2m per year will be spent on recycling and waste management. This will also bring kerbside recycling collections to the 8,000 Renfrewshire households which don’t currently have that option. A ‘Clean Renfrewshire’ anti-litter campaign will be launched this spring with a budget of Â£257,000 while a further Â£250,000 will support a community caretaking pilot scheme to keep areas clean and litter free.
The budget features further significant support for town centres. Johnstone will benefit from a Â£200,000 programme of landscaping and access works linking the town centre to the major developments by Morrisons and Dawn Homes. The current town centre works in Renfrew will benefit from improved links to the Riverside regeneration area with Â£300,000 of capital investment over the next two years.
In the next few weeks, the council will be bringing forward a series of measures to improve traffic access and parking in Paisley town centre.
And Paisley is also expected to be one of the main beneficiaries of a new Â£110,000 investment to boost tourism and attract events to Renfrewshire.
“We are ambitious for Renfrewshire and want to unleash Renfrewshire’s potential,” said Councillor Mackay. “There’s no reason why Paisley, for example, can’t carve out a niche in attracting events or festivals. Part of that approach will involve appointing an events manager. Perhaps even more important will be a commitment that the council’s first response will be ‘what can we do to help?’ across the full range of departments to bring in such events.”
On the transport front, the council is putting an extra Â£2.75m into upgrading roads. An additional Â£1m will fund a replacement programme for street lamps.
Renfrewshire’s bridges are also receiving major new investment with an additional Â£1m within a total Â£3.2m investment on bridges. That will enable the early refurbishment and strengthening in 2009-2010 of the historic Abbey Bridge in Paisley town centre.
The council is also giving more backing to one of its flagship schemes â€“ the creation later this year of five Local Area Committees (LACs) to give communities more involvement in decision-making. As part of that work, a new Â£200,000 Youth Challenge Fund is also being set up. The LACs will be able to determine how that money should be spent in their area â€“ whether that’s on a youth club, events or extra sessional workers.
Reductions in class sizes in the early years of primary school will be supported by almost Â£1m. Â£433,000 will increase the hours available in nurseries for every 3- and 4- year old in Renfrewshire to 475 hours per year.
In 2008-2009, the programme to modernise Renfrewshire’s schools will see the completion of refurbishments at Castlehead High (Â£8.9m), and St Charles’ Primary (Â£3.4m). Modernisation programmes will begin at Park Mains High (Â£9.5m), Johnstone High (9.4m), Renfrew High (Â£8.8m) and St Peter’s Primary (Â£2.7m).
The popular senior citizens’ scheme will continue with approximately 17,000 older people being given a Â£22 gift voucher or a day’s outing in a Â£336,000 programme.
Councillor Eileen McCartin, depute leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “This budget will also significantly boost support for carers. And it will see the first increase in personal care allowances since that innovative and popular policy was launched.”
Support for carers has been boosted with an extra Â£642,000 towards allowances for kinship carers (people who care for young relatives). A further Â£121,000 will fund an additional 300 weeks worth of respite care, either at home or in residential care. In addition, the council will invest a further Â£83,000 in other help for carers, including support for young carers.
The first rise in free personal care rates since their introduction in 2002 will see an extra Â£340,000 go towards providing for increases in care home fees and personal care allowances.
An additional Â£2.7m will develop new ways of delivering services through the use of information and communications technology, making a total investment of Â£6.1m over three years in such projects.
“Overall, this first budget of the new council marks the start of a new era for Renfrewshire,” concluded Councillor Mackay. “We are delivering on major new investment, giving people more say in decision-making and providing greater access to services in their communities.”
Renfrewshire’s council tax level 2008/2009
- Band A – Â£776.46
- Band B – Â£905.87
- Band C – Â£1035.28
- Band D – Â£1164.69
- Band E – Â£1423.51
- Band F – Â£1682.33
- Band G – Â£1941.15
- Band H – Â£2329.38
Separate water and sewerage charges set by Scottish Water will appear on the council tax bill.
Press release: Thursday 14 February 2008
Information from the Renfrewshire council website www.renfrewshire.gov.uk