£57m for schools, roads and other capital projects

Councillors will be discussing plans to invest more than £57 million into capital projects such as new schools, roads and street lighting this month.

Somerset County Council’s 2015/16 Capital Investment Programme outlines £57.35m of capital spending – that is investment in buildings and structures rather than running costs.

It forms part of the budget proposals being debated by Cabinet today and going before Full Council on Wednesday 18 February.

The largest chunk of money – £19.5m – will be spent on maintaining the county’s highways network – on everything from resurfacing and maintaining bridges to footway and drainage schemes.

The figures also include £6.5m for a new primary school at Lufton in Yeovil and a further £6.5m for new school buildings across Somerset to help meet the natural growing demand from rising populations.

Other areas of investment include:

  • £5m to repair and upgrade existing school properties.
  • £400,000 to make schools more accessible for children with disabilities.
  • £1m to increase capacity for pre-schools.
  • £350,000 to improve accessibility on Rights of Way by upgrading bridges and stiles.
  • £600k for new replacement gritters to help keep Somerset’s roads safe during winter.
  • £6m earmarked to commence the redevelopment of County Hall in Taunton to create a public services hub. This will be subject to future decisions and liaison with partner agencies.
  • £4m to invest in new ICT developments.

Some of the projects will also help Somerset County Council save money in the long run – such as the £2m allocated for street lighting. By replacing street lights with LED technology the council will save energy and reduce its carbon footprint and electricity bills.

Cllr David Huxtable, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “The reduced funding from Government has put huge pressure on our revenue budget, but we’re still investing a lot of money in capital projects where we have identified a need.

“This includes significant sums to make sure we have enough school places to meet the challenge of rising populations; it includes millions of pounds to maintain our county’s extensive highways network; and it includes investing to help us save money in the long term.

“All these projects will directly benefit local people and it is great news that we have been able to allocate nearly £60m despite the difficult economic climate.”