Potholes, streetlights, and community wardens under £31million spending plans for County Durham

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Picture c/o PA | Other 3rd Party
Extra cash will be put aside for streetlights, potholes and community wardens, among a range of other initiatives, in County Durham’s spending plans for 2020/21.

Finance chiefs have put up £31million pounds for two years worth of initiatives in the county to help hit climate change targets and for ‘sprucing up local communities’.

And county bosses have insisted their generosity, which coincides with the council passing a quarter of a billion pounds worth of cuts since 2011, is not related to pending or previous elections.

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“We know these are the things people want and this is the challenge on local government,” said Coun Simon Henig, the leader of Durham County Council.

“We know people want more spending on towns and villages and neighbourhoods, but because of the pressures of adults’ and children’s social care it has left us frustrated and unable to do what the people want us to do.

“These are the things we would really like to be able to do on a permanent basis across County Durham.”

Coun Henig was speaking ahead of this morning’s (Wednesday, February 22) meeting of the county council’s ruling cabinet to agree proposed spending plans and council tax rises for 2020/21.

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These will now have to be formally approved by a meeting of the full county council later this month (Wednesday, February 26), but the initiatives could include:

£1 million for pothole repairs £500,000 for eight community wardens to tackle issues such as fly-tipping £120,000 to provide food and other activities during school holidays

Coun Henig added he hoped most of the new schemes would be able to eventually secure long term funding.

But this will be largely dependent on the outcome of the government’s long-delayed Fair Funding Review of local government finances.

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“The last election was three years ago and we couldn’t do anything because we were still dealing with some huge reductions,” said Coun Henig when asked whether the spending plans had been prompted by county council elections slated for next year (2021).

“The pace of austerity has now slowed and we hope it’s at an end, but we won’t know until we get the Fair Funding Review through.”