BRIDGEND PROJECTS: Council outlines plans to spend around £62.4m in 2021/22
Bridgend Council has revealed its plans for spending on big projects in the upcoming financial year covering new schools, Maesteg Town Hall and Caerau heat network.
The council plans to spend around £62.4 million in total on capital schemes in 2021/22.
The local authority’s gross revenue income for 2021/22 is around £435.4 million.
The council’s net budget requirement is £299 million and over £86.8 million is to be funded from council tax across 65,000 households.
Councillors recently approved a council tax increase of 3.9%, equating to an extra £59 per year for residents in Band D properties.
The council’s interim chief officer for finance, performance and change, Gill Lewis, said the authority has “limited opportunity” to raise funds via capital receipts.
“We still have some redevelopment opportunities in Porthcawl, Parc Afon Ewenni, which may generate capital receipts but other than that we will need to borrow to finance our capital programme,” she added.
The funding of these projects is split over the course of the council’s capital investment programme for 2020 to 2031.
Here are some of the major projects for 2021/22 in Bridgend county borough:
Maesteg Town Hall
The historic building at the heart of Maesteg is currently undergoing renovations which are expected to cost a total of £7.2 million. Major changes to the town hall include a glass atrium and extension to house a café.
The council plans to spend around £5 million on the project in 2021/22. The Grade II-listed building, which has hosted celebrities such as Richard Burton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, is expected to reopen in Spring 2022.
The council will spend around £50 million by 2031 in its 21st Century Schools Band B programme, which aims to improve school buildings in poor condition. The Welsh Government funds half of the projects while the local authority and other companies cover the remaining half.
Bridgend council will spend just £625,000 on the project in 2021/22 but £5 million will be spent on acquiring land upon which to build the new schools.
Porthcawl Coastal Works
In the next financial year the council will spend £5.6 million on building flood defences in Porthcawl, covering the Western Breakwater and Eastern Promenade.
A total of £6 million will be spent on the scheme, which the council deemed a priority in early 2020 to protect local properties.
It was previously agreed the Welsh Government would provide a £4.5 million grant for the project, with the council being required to spend £1.5 million via an earmarked reserve. However, this was later changed to £969,000 with the balance being funded through the Local Government Borrowing Initiative.
Caerau Heat Scheme
A project aimed at providing low-carbon heat and cheaper energy bills for Caerau residents will cost £6.3 million in total, with the council spending £4.4 million in 2021/22.
The renewable energy scheme will use heat from water in former coal mines to create energy for heating and hot water in residents’ homes.
There are various stakeholders in the project, such as Welsh Government, UK Government, Cardiff University, Natural Resources Wales and The Coal Authority.
The council plans to spend £400,000 on replacing street lighting columns in 2021/22. The local authority spent £280,000 on such works in 2020/21 and is expected to spend £4.3 million in total by 2031.
Road and pavement resurfacing
Work has already commenced on resurfacing roads, pavements and bridges in the county borough. This year, the local authority plans to spend £1.3 million on resurfacing carriageways and restructuring footpaths. Around £340,000 will be spent on improving highway structures.
As well as installing flood defences in Porthcawl, the council wants to revamp the waterfront by developing residential, leisure, retail and commercial properties, open space and active travel routes.
In 2021/22, £2.5 million will be spent on regenerating Porthcawl, costing £2.6 million overall.
The council agreed to sell land at Salt Lake to Aldi in January this year as part of its regeneration plans for the town, which will see a food store built on the site possibly in the next two years.
Disabled facilities grants
The council will spend £1.8 million on disabled facilities grants, which fund changes to homes which enable disabled children and adults to get in and out of their properties.
This money can go towards things like stairlifts, level-access showers, or low level units, which make cooking more accessible. By 2031, the council will have spent £19.3 million on these grants.
A breakdown of the council’s gross revenue income for 2021/22:
Revenue support grant & non domestic rates – £212.2 million
Council tax – £86.8 million
Specific government grants – £80.8 million
Fees, charges & other income – £44.9 million
Other grants & contributions – £10.7 million
A breakdown of the council’s capital expenditure for 2021/22:
Communities, regeneration & development – £21.4 million
Communities – corporate landlord – £13.7 million
Education & family support – £11.5 million
Communities – street scene £8.4 million
Chief executive’s – housing & homelessness – £2.3 million
Social services & wellbeing – adult social care – £2 million
Unallocated funds – £1.7 million
Chief executive’s – ICT & corporate capital fund – £1.3 million
Ms Lewis said the council faces “an important change” to its capital strategy for 2021/22 because the Public Works Loans Board (its main source of borrowing) is introducing a new condition that the council can’t buy investment assets purely for yield.
In other words, the council cannot invest in something solely for financial gain. For example, it is not allowed to buy property just to benefit from rent fees without also delivering services.
Words: Hannah Neary, Local Democracy Reporter
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