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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

County agrees £134M spending package

* County Hall where the spending package was approved.
Councillors have given their backing to a programme of investment that could see £134 million ploughed into delivering Denbighshire’s corporate priorities over the next five years, including a major investment of £97 million in education.

Members voted in favour of the raft of proposals at the meeting of the full council on Tuesday.

The Corporate Plan looks at:
· Improving performance in education and the quality of school buildings
· Developing the local economy
· Improving roads
· Vulnerable people are protected and are able to live as independently as possible
· Clean and tidy streets
· Ensuring access to good quality housing
· Modernising the council to deliver efficiencies and improve services for customers.

Key proposals for investment for the five year period include:
· £97 million in improving school buildings, implementing area reviews, refurbishment and other improvements to schools.
· £10.4 million investment in roads
· £21 million in three extra care facilities across the county
· £2 million investment in the economy.
· £4 million in information communication technology (ICT) and office building assets.

The council would not need to provide all of this funding. It expects grants from the Welsh Government that will be available to help fund the planned work to improve schools and roads and that other partners would be likely to contribute to planned extra care housing projects.

From the total, £78 million would be found from the council's reserves, balances and by selling some of its assets, the rest would be generated through prudential borrowing.

Councillor Hugh Evans, Leader of Denbighshire County Council, (pictured right) said: "The priorities we have set are very ambitious and will move Denbighshire, and the council, forward.

"We believe that, by delivering this Corporate Plan, we can transform the lives of many people in Denbighshire, and that we can create a legacy for the future.

"It is well known that local authorities are facing difficult times. We have got less money to invest in council services, and we must also manage issues that are outside of our control, such as the global economy, welfare rights reform and the restructure of the health service.

"During these difficult times, it is important that we play our part by providing the best services possible for residents, and by focussing on priorities that will make a difference to people’s lives.

"Our Corporate Plan has a clear focus on improving services for our customers. We are also committed to becoming more responsive to the needs of customers, and to being clearer about what standards of service our customers should expect from the council."

Denbighshire's Chief Executive, Dr Mohammed Mehmet, said: "This is, without question, the most ambitious Corporate Plan the council has ever had, but it is also achievable.

"Each of our priorities will have to be approached in a different way. Some are about changing the way the whole council works, whilst others will be delivered by a small number of council services working together. Some will take several years to deliver and will require a significant amount of financial investment, whilst others may be achievable relatively quickly and may require additional effort and human resources, rather than substantial amounts of new money.

"The priorities focussing on the economy and education, in particular, have a timescale beyond the five years of this plan. Although we expect to see real progress in these priority areas, we believe that the full benefits will be realised beyond 2017.

"In order to continue to provide high quality services to our residents, it is essential that we modernise the council and exploit technology to become more efficient and cost-effective. Changing the way we work will enable us to divert valuable resources to support services to the public.

"Delivering our modernisation agenda will be the key to protecting frontline services and protecting jobs during the next five years, which is why this is one of the priorities within our Corporate Plan. It is not only important in its own right, but it also underpins our other priorities."

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