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Councillors prioritise infrastructure for young and old

16 January 2024

Budget proposals to deliver a Wisbech youth centre, prioritise school buildings maintenance and create a new independent living centre for older people were today (16 January) supported by a majority of councillors at the Assets and Procurement Committee, ahead of February’s meeting of Full Council.

The Assets & Procurement Committee oversees spending on the county council’s physical estate as well as playing a key role in reviewing the buying of services -like social care – and ensuring value for money.

A total of £540m capital programme is proposed across the next nine years, with a £218m investment across schools, roads and social care facilities.

This programme includes a further £765,000 investment into the Wisbech Adventure Playground location, with the construction of a youth and community centre beginning in the next financial year. This is one of the ways the council is fulfilling its ambitions that children and young people have opportunities to thrive whilst also ensuring access to public services.

No RAAC was found in Cambridgeshire schools during a detailed two-year inspection process. Condition surveys assessed the council’s 112 maintained school’s buildings to be a good standard. From 2024, £600,000 a year of funds has been earmarked to ensure building maintenance and respond to the ongoing academisation across the sector, as the officers review future education needs across the county. The funding to oversee schools’ maintenance is in addition to monies specifically for school buildings repairs received from government.

Another key proposal is a larger investment of £22.2m to create a new independent living service in East Cambridgeshire. Rental flats for older people will be created to enable more people to live independently for longer whilst care is stepped up to meet increased needs. Ensuring that people enjoy healthy, safe and independent lives through timely support is one of the council’s seven ambitions.

The cost of the project will be funded through rental income, including monies from NHS partners who will also be based in the building. Significant savings in care placement costs are also anticipated for the council through this new model of social care provision, which is considerably cheaper than standard residential or nursing care.

Other proposals supported by the committee included the investment of £14.5m through 2029 and beyond in land and the council’s county farms to diversify the estate and create more revenue through commercial development. Proposed savings have also been identified through changes to council buildings, with the continuation of agile working practices post-pandemic.

Members of the Strategy, Resources and Performance Committee (S,R&P) agreed to debate the proposals put forward in December, at all the council’s January service committees, as well as launching an online public survey ( and seeking views of town and parish councils, public sector authorities, business leaders and, most importantly, from residents.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s proposals for its 2024/5 budget have been prepared against a backdrop of what is being called ‘the toughest year to set a balanced council budget’, as the council looks to support vulnerable people and improve highways maintenance whilst seeking to bridge a remaining £2m funding gap.

Councillor Ros Hathorn, Chair of Assets and Procurement Committee said: “We’re prioritising infrastructure to support the welfare of our county’s children and older people in this year’s budget. A majority of the Assets & Procurement Committee believe this decision is not only the right one for our community - but will also help us continue to provide our essential services across the community.

“Like many of our residents who are feeling the pinch at the moment, the council is also experiencing financial pressures – particularly the impact of rising inflation on the cost of our contracts. That’s why alongside support for young and old, we’re also thinking creatively and making targeted investments in our county estate, to ensure we get the best out of our assets and generate income that help us continue to provide public services over the longer term.”

The views of all committees, those drawn from the online survey and meetings with groups including town and parish councils, business leaders and trade unions, will be combined before the Strategy, Resources & Procurement Committee makes a final recommendation at its meeting on 30 January to Full Council, which then meets to debate and agree the council’s budget on 13 February.

For more information on the council’s proposals for the coming year visit - Consultation begins on Cambridgeshire budget proposals ahead of ‘toughest year’ for local councils - Cambridgeshire County Council.