Cabinet considers £76m capital investment plans

Investment of around £76m in highways, schools and economic growth will be considered by Somerset County Council’s Cabinet next week.

The authority’s Capital Investment Programme for the next financial year includes over £20m for maintenance of the County’s 4,000 miles of roads and almost £17m for school buildings, expansions and repairs that will provide in the region of 700 additional primary school places.

More than £1.1m is allocated to the final phase of the Somerset Energy Innovation Centre in Bridgwater, the custom-made space for nuclear or other low carbon supply chain businesses. Around £1.4m is earmarked for the creation of shared service ‘hubs’ with partners to improve customer access and reduce running costs.

“Even in this difficult financial climate, it’s important that we continue to invest in the future,” said Harvey Siggs, Cabinet Member for Resources. “Our spending priorities are varied but cover the most important key areas of Somerset County Council’s work, including identifying opportunities to maximise economic growth.

“We have been successful in attracting nearly £26m funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership and developer contributions for major infrastructure projects. This money for capital projects cannot be spent on our day-to-day running costs, but we are making sure that we invest it for the benefit of our residents.”

Other key areas of investment include:

  • £775,000 to complete replacing the existing traditional highways lighting network with more efficient LED lights that will save the £370,000 a year in running costs
  • £500,000 for the Business Growth Fund which will help enhance and extend the network of enterprise centres which provide flexible office and light-industrial space to encourage businesses to set up and grow in the county
  • £356,000 repairing or replacing bridges and other structures on the Rights of Way network

The County Council’s Cabinet meets on 8 February and will decide whether to recommend the Capital Investment Programme, along with other budget proposals, to Full Council which meets on 17 February.