Herefordshire Council passes budget with compromises on school transport charges and the arts (From Ledbury Reporter)
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Herefordshire Council passes budget with compromises on school transport charges and the arts
1:38pm Friday 7th February 2014 in News
Herefordshire Council has just passed its 2014/15 budget having compromised on school transport charges and cuts to arts commissioning.
Councillors unanimously agreed that schools and art organisations can adjust to any new charging or funding arrangements for next year.
Councillors Sebastian Bowen and John Stone proposed an amendment to re-instate free home to school transport - and for post-16s with Special Educational Needs - for a 12-month period from September.
This, the council heard, allowed for the creation of a £112,000 “transition fund” to enable schools to develop responses to the changes that will see pupils receive free transport to their nearest school only in September 2015.
Currently, pupils also receive funding to travel to their catchment school - even though this may not be the nearest to their home address.
Also approved is an amendment to re-instate arts commission grants for 2014/15 enabling organisations to plan for adjustments to their funding.
However, councillors rejected an amendment to delay development of Hereford's link road so £100k could be set aside for voluntary sector.
One of the issues in backing the budget was the £40 million it will cost the council over the next three years to fund the £165 million energy-from-waste incinerator plant in Hartlebury, near Stourport.
The plan’s strategy estimates council borrowing to increase by £50.8 million over 2014/15, pushing the overall debt up to £218.2 million.
That includes £11 million borrowed over the year for the incinerator.
A total of 27 councillors voted in favour of the budget, with 19 against and five abstentions.
As a result of it being passed, council tax will now rise by 1.9% to £1,251.32 a year for a Band D household for 2014/15.