Members of Full Council debated the £780 million business plan (including schools) for 2017/18 which needs to provide services with £32.4 million less than the authority had last year.

The budget recognises the investment that has already taken place in the transforming of the services that the council provides to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. But also highlights that there is significant scope for further transformation.

Following a number of amendments the Council agreed a budget which would see a 2 per cent rise in the Social Care Precept - this is a ring fenced amount which must be spent on Social Care. This would mean the average D band Council Tax property in Cambridgeshire paying an extra 45p per week.

The vast majority of the business plan had been developed through service based committees over the last six months and therefore had general support from across the Chamber. The focus was therefore on the amendments proposed at the Council meeting.

The outcome of the debate resulted in additional investments in services of £2.7 million being approved by the Council. Additional funding being approved in transport issues, road maintenance, and mental health services. It was also agreed that funding would be provided to retain current levels of gritting and street-lighting.

The budget also notes that the Council, working with City Deal partners, anticipates the removal of the £1 Park and Ride charge at no extra cost to the County Council.

The budget also agreed to look at providing the resources to access £50 million of funding to invest in solving a number of pinch points causing congestion across the County.

It also included increasing funding for pothole repairs by an extra £2.15million - a 50 per cent increase in funding enabling an extra 67,500 pot holes a year to be repaired.

The budget approved an extra £200,000 to be put to gulley clearance, grass and visibility splay cutting while an additional £300,000 will be spent on sealing and improving pavements.

Some extra £60,000 will be invested in mental health to implement the Public Mental Health Strategy commitments approved by the Health Committee. This includes supporting schools to deal with bullying, supporting employers to help staff at risk of mental health decline. It would also include funding a debt advice pilot for people at risk of mental health.

Included in the budget is £120,000 funding for the early years literacy project. This will pay for literacy projects to be delivered in Wisbech, Huntingdon, North Cambridge and St Neots. The initial Wisbech project saw a 26 per cent increase in children achieving early years standard over two years.

Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Steve Count, said: œIt was a seriously considered debate with everyone wanting to do their best for the people of Cambridgeshire and putting their heart and souls into it. This budget reflects the public survey which showed a clear majority agreed with the need to increase tax by around 2 per cent. This budget will see the Social Care Precept increasing by 2% - which is ring fenced to help and care for our most vulnerable. We also want to continue to transform the council at pace to be more efficient and improve services. This work has already started and is making a real difference but we want this to improve at pace. The extra £2.7 million approved at the Council meeting will also see us tackling issues that make a real difference in people's lives and the economic success of the County. By unlocking millions of pounds of transport investment we can tackle congestion pinch points across Cambridgeshire. More funding is being put into repairing potholes, improving paths and making sure our verges are cut. We can also use the extra money to invest in initiatives directly put forward by the Council's committees making a real difference in the field of mental health and early years literacy.

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