Thursday February 25th 2021
Ambitious budget proposals aimed at “leading the way out of the pandemic” have been unanimously approved by Midlothian Council.
At a meeting of the full council held on Tuesday, councillors agreed to the council’s most ambitious capital programme ever, which will see record investment of over £0.567 billion through to 2025, with a further £263 million of local projects in the pipeline.
Projects approved include:
– £10.5 million for the delivery of a revised digital learning programme as part of plans to provide every child of school age with a digital device and associated support
– A wide-ranging school building, extension and refurbishment programme, with proposals for a new A701 school campus, replacing Beeslack High School, and the extension and refurbishment of Penicuik High
– A new £16.8 million primary school and community hub, now nearing completion, in Danderhall
– A new school campus proposed for Shawfair, and a new high school for Gorebridge
– Replacement schools for the Mayfield campus and Lasswade Primary
– A £343 million investment in new-build council houses and in the continuing upgrading of existing homes
– A new £12 million care facility at Polton Street in Bonnyrigg
– Investment in improved roads, footpaths and lighting across Midlothian, totalling £16.6 million
– Part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, major investment is also planned in the new A701 Relief Road and A702 link which will support planned investment in new research and technology facilities at Easter Bush
Councillors also agreed to a cross-party recommendation to approve a balanced budget for 2021/22 which will see revenue spending on council services top £227.86 million. The biggest investment will be in education (£103.65 million) and health and social care (£47.724 million).
Recognising the extraordinary pressures placed on household incomes by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with cross-party support, the council agreed to freeze Council Tax and council house rents. Fees and charges set by the council will also be frozen at current levels. The decision means that the average Band D Council Tax will remain at £1,409 from April 2021 to March 2022. A planned 3% rents increase has also been shelved.
“This landmark budget accelerates the council’s ambition, which was approved as part of the Midlothian Route Map through and out of the crisis, back in June last year,”
said a council spokesperson.
“It also represents a significant departure from previous budgets in that it’s the first time since local government reorganisation in 1996 that no service cuts have been needed to balance the budget – this despite a real terms reduction in core government grant support. This is as a direct result of the cross-party ‘step change’ which took place when the council approved its Medium Term Financial Strategy in June 2019.
“This budget, together with the accelerated capital programme, means that Midlothian is ‘building back better’ – with new jobs, apprenticeship opportunities, support for businesses, and help for communities and families hard-hit by the impact of COVID-19. It promises new schools, a record investment in council housing, improved infrastructure, and the new opportunities needed to help lead the way out of the pandemic and towards a better future for Midlothian.”Tweet Share on Facebook