Road re­pairs in the spot­light

Re­port casts doubt over £260m spend

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jo-Anne Rowney jo-anne.rowney@trin­i­tymir­

A RE­PORT has rec­om­mended the county coun­cil looks at whether bor­row­ing £260m to fix the county’s roads would be value for money.

Bucks County Coun­cil’s bud­get scru­tiny com­mit­tee made the rec­om­men­da­tion fol­low­ing a se­ries of meet­ings, where it grilled cabi­net mem­bers over plans for the up­com­ing bud­get.

The re­port makes sug­ges­tions for the fi­nal bud­get plan, in­clud­ing as­sess­ing changes to fund­ing for vol­un­tary groups, re­cruit­ing more staff for so­cial care and look­ing at sell­ing off resid­ual heat from the En­ergy From Waste Plant.

The re­port rec­om­mends that a also full ap­praisal look­ing at whether bor­row­ing money to fund fix­ing the county’s roads should be sub­mit­ted to cabi­net ‘at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity’.

This fol­lows our Jan­uary 15 front page story which re­ported on Peter Hardy, cabi­net mem­ber for fi­nance and re­sources, sug­gest­ing bor­row­ing up to £260m to fix the county’s roads in one go would be a good in­vest­ment.

He was sup­ported by cabi­net mem­ber for trans­port Ruth Vig­orHed­derly, who said she was open to the idea.

Leader Martin Tett dis­agreed, say­ing bor­row­ing would mean fur­ther cuts when peo­ple were al­ready feel­ing the pinch in ev­ery depart­ment.

The Lib­eral Democrats also backed plans to bor­row, say­ing it was a more sound in­vest­ment than money spent on the new in­cin­er­a­tor north of the county.

But the Tax­pay­ers’ Al­liance warned that bor­row­ing should be the last re­sort.

In­quiry chair­man David Shake­speare said: “We have given a full and ro­bust chal­lenge to the cabi­net mem­bers on their bud­get plans, on be­half of res­i­dents, through a wide-rang­ing in­quiry.

“We hope our re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions will be of ben­e­fit to cabi­net as the bud­get­set­ting process nears com­ple­tion.”

The in­quiry re­port will go be­fore cabi­net on Mon­day.

The fi­nal bud­get will be agreed by full coun­cil on Thurs­day next week.

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