This was the key message from Council Leader Mark Macmillan as Renfrewshire Council agreed a £381 million budget for 2016-17. The council will also invest £149m in capital projects over the next three-years.
New proposals included a multi-million pound plan to transform the north-west area of Paisley and significant investment to support Renfrewshire’s most vulnerable groups.
The council’s budget, which was set today, outlined proposals for a new landscaped town park – with outdoors events space, on the site of the current St James’ playing fields.
The Council will also take forward a landmark proposal to deliver a £15 million regional sports village in Ferguslie with state-of-the-art facilities for local people and elite athletes. The project will be developed in partnership with The University of the West of Scotland (UWS), and St Mirren FC, with the council pledging £7.5m towards the joint costs of both Paisley north-west projects.
Detailed proposals will be developed in the coming months to enable people to have their say on the opportunities which will be available and to help shape what will be delivered.
£8.7million will be directed to support the new Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership with resources earmarked to secure the Living Wage for employees of non-council social care providers in Renfrewshire. As part of this, £974,000 will go towards measures to reduce the charges which senior citizens and adults pay for non-residential care.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “People in Renfrewshire will know that this has been a very challenging budget to prepare.
“Local government in general and Renfrewshire in particular, has seen major cuts in funding from the Scottish Government.
“However, we have remained true to our priorities of giving people more opportunities by investing in education, helping families, supporting jobs and investment, and continuing the regeneration of Renfrewshire.
“We have protected spending in education, including maintaining teacher numbers. Frontline services have been sustained, and we have prioritised social work services which protect our youngest, our oldest, and our most vulnerable.
“Our ambition for Renfrewshire remains unchanged and there is a lot to look forward to. The £1.13billion Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal will deliver jobs, investment and infrastructure improvements.
“And Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 is spearheading a major events and cultural programme which will transform the town and deliver long lasting social and economic benefits across all of Renfrewshire.
“This budget helps to deliver those priorities”.
Other highlights for 2016/17 include a £1million investment in public Wi-Fi and digital access to help to deliver Renfrewshire’s digital vision, connect communities and deliver social and economic benefits for residents, students, visitors and businesses in Johnstone, Renfrew and Paisley town centres. Plans are currently being developed in partnership with UWS, West College Scotland, Paisley First and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce. Work is expected to begin by the end of the summer.
The council’s commitment to boosting parks and green spaces will also be supported by an investment of £2.25m. Most of that will go to Robertson Park, Renfrew, and Barshaw Park, Paisley, where the council is working with local community groups to revitalise both parks.
Councillor Macmillan added: “Overall, we deliver a balanced budget in extremely difficult circumstances which protects the council’s priorities and our community’s values. “That has been achieved by careful financial management over a period of years and without making any compulsory redundancies.
“It is a budget that will help to deliver the future we all want for Renfrewshire.”
The council tax charges for Renfrewshire will remain unchanged for 2016-17
The bills issued to householders will also include a separate charge set by Scottish water.