Worcester City councillors have approved a £10.2 million budget for 2018/19, including a range of initiatives to deliver the ambitions in the City Plan.
The City Plan aims to build a successful future for Worcester and money has been set aside in next year’s budget to improve the city centre, increase the range of walking and cycling opportunities, boost housing and more.
The budget includes a rise in the City Council’s element of residents’ Council Tax bills.
Investments to be made under the 2018/19 budget include:
- £500,000 towards the development of a City Centre Master Plan, a new vision for the heart of Worcester
- £500,000 for a new pedestrian bridge in the north of the city
- £500,000 to boost housing development in the city
- A separate £500,000 to provide more housing for vulnerable tenants
- £300,000 for further improvements to the riverside area
- £100,000 to create a new pedestrian and cycle path running from Diglis to Carrington Bridge
- £100,000 for additional work to enforce housing standards in the private rented housing sector over the next two years
- £100,000 to promote healthy activities to city residents
- £15,000 to provide drinking fountains in city centre, helping to reduce plastic use.
Councillor Adrian Gregson, Leader of the City Council, said: “This budget will bring important progress in our City Plan ambition to build a successful future for Worcester on its 2,000 years of history. The City Centre Master Plan is a particularly significant project, as it will create an exciting vision for developing and improving the very heart of our city.”
Councillor Marc Bayliss, Deputy Leader of the City Council, said: “This is an ambitious budget that will bring our vision for a new pedestrian bridge for the city closer to reality, as well as supporting exciting initiatives in housing, our environment and our transportation links. It is a budget for a prosperous, strong and healthy city.”
Council Tax will increase by 2.99%, as permitted by the Government. That means a £5.24 increase for a band D property.
A one-off £150,000 investment in community safety initiatives – including investment in CCTV and youth support – has also been approved as part of the budget, alongside an ongoing annual £50,000 boost to this important work.
An extra £88,000 has been set aside to support the Council’s work to tackle homelessness, in line with the new Homelessness Prevention Act.
£80,000 will be used to ensure the continuation of the Discretionary Welfare Assistance Scheme in Worcester. The scheme provides assistance in the form of goods or vouchers to help individuals or families facing exceptionally difficult circumstances or an emergency.
£15,000 will be spent on reducing the impact of gulls on the city, and there is no change to charges in the Council’s car parks.
The 2018/19 budget includes a contribution of £1.609m from the Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme, an award made in recognition of the number of new houses delivered in the city. £808,000 will be used to support delivery of the City Plan. The remainder will go towards maintaining excellent standards in the Council’s main services, including waste and recycling, grounds maintenance, parks, street cleaning, planning, housing, economic development and more.
The Worcester City Plan 2016-2021 sets out ambitions under five broad themes:
- Stronger and connected communities
- A prosperous city
- A healthy and active city
- A heritage city for the 21st Century
- Sustaining and improving our assets
The full City Plan can be read at www.worcester.gov.uk/cityplan
The increase in the City Council’s element of residents’ Council Tax bills for each property band is:
- Band A - £3.49
- Band B - £4.07
- Band C - £4.66
- Band D - £5.24
- Band E - £6.41
- Band F - £7.57
- Band G - £8.73
- Band H - £10.48