Boosting the local economy, improving neighbourhoods, and creating more school placs are among the top spending priorities being put forward for Leicester City Council’s next capital programme.
Over £116m of new investment has been earmarked for a range of schemes and projects from 2018 to 2020. This capital budget is made up of cash from government grants and the sale of city council assets and cannot be used to fund the council’s running costs.
The largest portion of the new capital budget – a substantial £60million – will be set aside to help create 1,000 new primary and 3,400 new secondary school places to meet rising demand in the city. This will bring the council’s total planned investment in its school expansion programme to over £100m since 2016.
There will an extra £19m allocated to support the aims of the city’s Economic Action Plan. Since its launch in 2012, the economic action plan has helped create over 5,000 local jobs and 900 new apprenticeships. It has also helped attract millions of pounds of new investment in the city.
An extra £2m will be invested in highways maintenance and repairs in neighbourhoods across the city, including pothole repairs, surface treatments and sealing works to roads, improving pavements, and replacing old speed humps and traffic signals.
There will be an extra £3.6m allocated to the Connecting Leicester programme. This will provide match-funding to support a bid for EU-cash to support major cycleway and walking improvement schemes.
Over £2million will also be set aside for improvements to council leisure centres.
Disabled facilities grants will continue to be supported with an extra £2million available for grants towards property work that will help disabled people live in their own homes.
Other projects earmarked for investment include a city centre children’s playground (£100,000), parking and grounds improvements at De Montfort Hall (£570,000), a new car parking area at Watermead Country Park (£150,000), and ongoing improvements to city council children’s homes (£500,000).
A sum of £1.4million has been set aside for the future relocation of the city’s sexual health clinic, which could result in significant long-term savings, along with £300,000 for a generator to provide a back-up power supply for the emergency control room at City Hall.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This proposed capital programme represents a huge investment in local schools, neighbourhoods, highways and jobs and will bring real benefits to people who live and work in the city.
“Despite continued and severe Government cuts to grants for our running costs, we are determined to continue to invest in projects that meet immediate and important local needs.
“In many cases these proposed investments and projects have been raised as priorities at a ward level and will benefit many communities close to where they live.”
In addition to the projects highlighted in the capital programme, it is anticipated that a further £30million will be made available over the two years of the programme from the Housing Revenue Account. This will be invested in improvements to council housing and housing estates.
Capital spending of around £100m is already planned for 2018/19, as a result of schemes approved since February 2016. This includes £9million for investment in community adult social care (Extra Care).
This means that the city council’s total capital investment now forecast for the period 2018 to 2020 is likely to be around £250m.
The new capital programme will be considered by full council on 30 November for approval.
Revenue collected from council tax cannot be used to fund capital projects. Similarly, capital budgets must not be used to cover the council’s running costs.