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Council financial freedom leads to business and homes investments

By Ben Comber

Opening of council Fleet Services at Dickerson Industrial Estate Waterbeach following their move from Mill Road. Picture: Keith Heppell
Opening of council Fleet Services at Dickerson Industrial Estate Waterbeach following their move from Mill Road. Picture: Keith Heppell

A new four-year funding deal will allow Cambridge City Council greater freedom to run its finances.

The deal, which runs until 2020, breaks the practice of councils being told by the Government about their funding for the upcoming financial year each winter. While the new deal will leave city finances poorer, the council will be more financially independent, it says.

A five-point plan has been put together to show government there is a clear plan for the future.

Cllr Richard Robertson, executive councillor for finance and resources, said: “Multi-year planning is essential given the challenges of a rapidly growing city, devolution opportunities and the need to transform our delivery of services.

“Major uncertainty factors following the Brexit vote will have significant impacts on our city’s prosperity and international economy so having certainty from this four-year settlement is very welcome.”

The council’s five-point plan involves developing its own businesses, one of which is the new Fleet Services at Waterbeach.

This new garage will maintain the council’s fleet of vehicles, including the shared service refuse collection lorries, and will also provide MOT testing, services and repairs for the general public. The new station was opened at Dickerson Industrial Estate, Waterbeach, by Cllr Peter Roberts, corporate project manager Fran Barratt and commercial manager Dave Cox.

The business moves from the previous depot in Mill Road. This, and the surrounding buildings which are between Kingston Street and the railway, are proposed to become 167 new homes.

Housing investments and better capital investments are also part of the five-point plan. Already £50m has been freed up to buy more commercial property for the council.

The overall plan will also aim to transform the way the council delivers services and seek to share services with neighbouring councils where possible.

The number of council offices is being reduced, including the sale of Hobson House on St Andrew’s Street.

Finally, the plan will seek to challenge the council’s capital programme to reduce capital commitments by more than £10m and ensure schemes are well planned and delivered in a timely way.


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