Yesterday saw a tremendous breakthrough for the Liberal Democrats in securing nearly a full slate of budget proposals amounting to nearly £0.5million for 2015/2016.
This year’s county council budget setting meeting commenced after the morning’s extraordinary meeting over the incinerator. The Liberal Democrats presented a comprehensive package of recommendations over a range of different service areas including cycling schemes, health, fire emergency support, Wi-fi, adoption and road safety.
The Liberal Democrat proposals agreed included:
1) A £100K investment to undertake the necessary feasibility and advance design work in preparation for delivering cycling schemes in future years.
2) A £10K investment funded from the Sexual Health part of the Public Health ring fenced Grant to carry-out a study into Chlamydia/STI screening and the role of GPs across the county in encouraging more opportunistic screening.
3) That approximately £100K be invested to provide free Wi-Fi in every county and community library.
4) That every elected county councillor in 2015/2016 receives an additional £2.5k (53 x £2.5K = £132.5K as part of a one-off increase to their ‘Highways Local’ money, which may be used for tree maintenance and/or tree planting in their division.
5) That a £10K one-off investment is given to the Red Cross Fire Emergency Support Service in order to double the number of volunteers from 12 to 24. The Red Cross Fire Emergency Support Service provides invaluable support to Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service.
6) A £10K pot of money to provide support in the form of courses for those approved adopters who adopt older children and teenagers where risk of disruption is recognised to be high. The aim is to further support these placements and reduce the chance of the placement breaking down.
7) £50K one-off investment package into a number of Road Safety Programmes including a repeat of all Year 5 pupils at Gloucestershire’s primary schools being given the opportunity to have a session at Gloucester’s SkillZone.
8) That a £20K one-off investment is given to the Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Team to work towards doubling the number of children who receive e-Safety in 2015/2016.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD: Kingsholm and Wotton) said:
“We are delighted in securing these proposals, which are now a part of the 2015/2016 budget. We are hopeful that our recommendations will go some way to making a real difference to the lives of Gloucestershire resident’s in 2015/2016.
“I am especially pleased that support was given for repeating our proposal last year for all Year 5 primary school pupils to undertake a session at SkillZone. Teachers have overwhelmingly reported that their children will be safer after a session.
“I am also excited by the one-off investment that is to be given to the Red Cross Emergency Support Service. They play a pivotal role in providing the basic amenities and emotional support to those going through the horrific experience of an emergency situation such as a house fire, flood or even road traffic accident.
“Users of our public libraries will be delighted that free WiFi will be available in all libraries.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how small pots of money can make a big difference in Gloucestershire.”
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Iain Dobie (LD: Leckhampton and Warden Hill) also said: “We welcome the £100K investment to undertake the necessary feasibility and advance design work in preparation for delivering cycling schemes.
“Cycling should be for everyone, not just the speedsters in Lycra. We want to break down the barriers to cycling to school or the shops, to work or for leisure.
“The rewards could be massive: millions of pounds in savings for the NHS, less pollution and congestion, and greater safety and happiness.”