Council set to spend £5m on averting future floods

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ALMOST £5m is set to be spent on works to prevent future flooding in the borough.

North Tyneside Council has begun drawing up its outline budget for next year and is set to splash the cash in a bid to help stop homes and roads being left awash again.

That won’t lead to bigger bills for householders, however, as the authority plans to freeze council tax for the third consecutive year.

Borough mayor Linda Arkley’s draft budget includes £18.5m of additional investment to prioritise improvements to roads and pavements and initiatives to prevent future flooding.

The council’s specific budget plans will not be finalised until January – a month later than usual – due to a delay in the announcement of funding allocations by the government.

Mrs Arkley said: “Road and pavement repairs are a priority for our residents, and for the council.

“Severe weather conditions over the last couple of years – in terms of snow, frost and flooding – have really taken their toll.

“I am determined that the council will make additional provision for further investment so we can continue to prioritise the stretches of roads and pavements with the most significant damage.”

The draft budget allocates £4.75m for works to try to avert a repeat of the flooding that brought chaos to the borough in June.

“There are some occasions when, even in difficult economic situations, you have to invest money to prevent further costs in the future, and flooding is a prime example,” said Mrs Arkley. “Following the flooding, I was out and about speaking to those whose lives were severely affected and I saw the impact the floods had on the wellbeing of individuals and communities.

“This can require significant investment by families, the council and others to get homes and communities back up and running.

“I have decided I must prioritise spending on preventative measures that will aim to keep our residents and their homes safer by reducing flooding risks wherever we can.

“It’s about investing to prevent further devastation.”

Decisions on savings, increased income and service changes for the next financial year will be guided by the council’s four-year change, efficiency and improvement programme.

Residents have been canvassed about the programme, and more than 1,400 questionnaires have been returned.

Mrs Arkley said: “There are some challenging decisions for us to make this year and the cabinet and I have to make those difficult decisions.

“However, we will aim to take on board the comments from the public in reaching those decisions to ensure that essential and statutory services are prioritised.”